In today's On the News segment: Montana follows Vermont's lead on path to state-level single-payer system, Republican attacks on reproductive rights continue in a new request for 12 years of Planned Parenthood's financial disclosures, new evidence surfaces that the conflict in Afghanistan is worsening, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The stage is set for a Supreme Court showdown. The Department of Justice called on the Supreme Court yesterday to rule on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature health reform law – making it extremely likely the high court will hear the case sometime around the summer of next year – right smack dab in the middle of the election season. The DOJ is calling on the court to reverse a decision made by a lower appeals court in Atlanta that struck down the entire law earlier this year. In a statement released yesterday – the DOJ made it clear that it was confident Obamacare would be upheld saying, “Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation, such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed.” According to the Center for American Progress – if all 9 Supreme Court justices remain consistent in their previous rulings – then there are at least 7 votes on the high court in favor of the Affordable Care Act. Then again, they will rule during an election – and given that this is one of the most politicized Supreme Courts in our nation’s history – anything can happen – just look at Citizens United.
The racial wealth inequality in our nation is getting worse. For the first time in history – a minority group – Hispanics – have the most children living in poverty in America. Up until this year – there’s
always been more white children living in poverty than black or Hispanic children – simply because there are so many more white children in this country. But according to a new report released by Pew – 6.1 million Hispanic children now live in poverty – compared to 5 million white children – and 4.4 million black children. That’s despite the fact that Hispanics make up only about 1/6 of the nation’s population. The reports notes that minorities have been hit the hardest by the Bush recession over the last 3 years. And while this racial inequality is troubling – what’s even more troubling is that ANY child is living in poverty in the United States – the wealthiest nation on the planet. Currently, one out of every five children in America – regardless of race – lives in poverty. This is a national crisis, and the Republicans want to make it worse.
In the best of the rest of the news…
First it was Vermont – now it’s Montana. Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana said he plans to ask the federal government to exempt his state from requirements in the Affordable Care Act – so that he can set up a universal, single-payer system like in Canada. Earlier this year – the state of Vermont started moving in the same direction too. Governor Schweitzer said he wants to create a system modeled after the Canadian province of Saskatchewan – where less is spent on healthcare – but there are better results and people live longer. Today – Canada has a nationwide single-payer system – but it started with one province – Saskatchewan – and spread across the rest of the nation. Let's hope we see the same thing sweep across America.
While the Republican base might applaud state-sanctioned executions – one former Supreme Court justice doesn’t. Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, echoing former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell years ago, said one of his major regrets from his time on the court – was his vote in 1976 to reinstate the death penalty. Stevens said, “Maybe one believes, and certainly a lot of people sincerely do, that it is an effective deterrent to crime and will in the long run will do more harm than good. I don’t happen to share that view. But…being hard on crime…always is politically popular, let’s put it that way.” Stevens' comments come a week after our nation executed Troy Davis in Georgia – a man that in all likelihood was innocent. Let’s not forget this tragedy of justice – let’s end state-sanctioned murder in
There’s now more evidence that the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. According to a new United Nations report – violence has increased in Afghanistan 39% since last year – with more and more armed clashes and homemade bomb attacks being carried out by Taliban insurgents. In just three months – June through August – of this year – 971 civilians were killed and another 1,400 hundred injured in the ongoing war. But it’s not just insurgents killing civilians – it’s our own airstrikes. As the UN report notes – in the month of July – 38 civilians were killed by US airstrikes. It’s been nearly a decade since this war started – and that’s a decade too long. Time to end the wars.
In case we all forgot – Republicans reminded us this week that their war on women is still ongoing. The Republican-led House Energy Committee sent a letter to Planned Parenthood requesting 12 years of financial disclosures to determine if the organization is misusing federal funds – in particular for abortion services. The ranking Democrat on the Committee – Rep. Henry Waxman – called the investigation into Planned Parenthood, “part of a Republican vendetta against an organization that provides family planning and other medical care to low-income women and men.” I guess with the economy in full meltdown – with growing civil unrest about the high crimes on Wall Street – and with two endless wars – Republicans in Congress think taxpayers dollars are best used to go after Planned Parenthood – and women’s reproductive health and rights. It makes you wonder…what planet are these guys living on?
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, September 29th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.