In today’s On the News segment: The American Legislative Exchange Council is pushing new legislation to prevent insurance companies from accepting subsidies under the healthcare law; this year, many families in our nation are skipping Thanksgiving dinner; at least one Maryland county is going green; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. ALEC wants to kill Obamacare. The American Legislative Exchange Council is pushing new legislation to prevent insurance companies from accepting subsidies under the healthcare law. In public, the new legislation is being called the “Healthcare Freedom Act,” but behind closed doors it’s known as the “Obamacare Kill Bill.” The law would suspend the licenses of health insurers who accept Obamacare subsidies, making it virtually impossible to insure those who can’t afford new plans. If one of these laws were to actually go into effect, it would force insurance companies to try and collect premiums from patients, or lead them to stop doing business in the states in which it was enacted. Already, the measure has been introduced in Ohio and Missouri, despite the fact that it would be preempted by federal law. States do regulate their own insurance licenses, but the law is an obvious conflict to the federal Affordable Care Act. Even after more than 40 attempts to repeal Obamacare, a government shutdown, and Ted Cruz’s make-believe filibuster, Republicans don’t seem to get the point that the healthcare law is here to stay. This new legislation is just another pathetic attempt to dismantle the law, at the expense of millions of Americans who need health insurance. ALEC’s legislation doesn’t represent “healthcare freedom,” it represents partisan lawmakers and corporate interests who will do anything to undermine our president.
In screwed news… This year, many families in our nation are skipping Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks to the $5 billion dollars that was cut from SNAP benefits on November 1st, many families simply can’t afford their traditional turkey dinners. This is the first holiday since the so-called Hunger Cliff, which means that the 47 million Americans who rely on food stamps are trying to get by with smaller benefits. Many of them are turning to local food pantries to make up the difference, but food banks were already struggling to meet demand before these cuts. Government subsidies that help keep food banks open were cut drastically in the sequester, so these organizations are trying to feed even more hungry people with less. Meanwhile, most members of Congress remain silent about repealing these food stamp cuts, and some have even proposed slashing an additional $4 billion dollars from the program. It is simply unacceptable that people are going hungry in the richest nation on Earth – while corporations receive huge tax subsidies, and the rich aren’t asked to pay their fair share.
In the best of the rest of the news…
At least one Maryland county is going green. Last week, Prince George’s County Council unanimously passed a measure requiring every public building to be powered by renewable energy. The bill mandates that public buildings use 1 kilowatt of solar, geothermal, or wind energy for every 1,000 square of feet of floor space. The measure also requires the budget for every new building or renovation set aside at least 2 percent for green energy installations. The Prince George’s plan is part of a state-wide initiative to reduce greenhouse gasses by 25 percent by the year 2020. Council member Mary Lehmen, who proposed the measure, said, “I am thrilled [that] the council has adopted one of the most ambitions policies for clean energy on public buildings in the country.” She added, “This bill will spur clean energy jobs for our workforce, energy savings for our taxpayers, and a cleaner environment for our children.” This sounds like a great plan for Maryland, now we should call on lawmakers to make it nation-wide.
According to RadCast.org, radiation levels are still elevated because of the jet stream, but spikes in some areas have come down a bit. Near the East coast, Chicopee, Massachusetts is sitting at 43 counts per minute, but spikes are down to 60, from yesterday’s 66. In the Midwest, Craig, Montana is hovering at 40 counts per minute, with spikes down to 55 from 59 yesterday. In the Southwest, Tuscon, Arizona is down to 50 counts per minute, from yesterday’s average of 60, and levels there are spiking at 65. On the West coast however, Portland, Oregon is sitting at 38 counts per minute, up from 32 the day before, and spikes there are now at 59, up from 49 counts per minute yesterday. RadCast.org reminds us that their alert level is 100 counts per minute, and they’re monitoring areas all around our nation to keep us informed.
Walmart workers in three more cities went on strike ahead of Black Friday. Workers in Miami protested on Monday, following workers in Tampa and Sacramento who went on strike over the weekend. These strikes come just days before a major action that workers have planned for Black Friday, when they promise more than 1,500 protests across the country. Protesters are demanding that the low-price retailer pay employees at least $25,000 per year, and stop retaliating against workers who protest unfair working conditions. Walmart workers are realizing that they have more power by standing together, and together they are taking a stand against corporate power.
And finally… The Gratitude Graffiti project is spreading thanks in the state of New Jersey. The project started back on October 27th, and runs through Thanksgiving. It encourages residents to write messages on local store windows, telling their neighbors what it is that they’re thankful for. More than 25 businesses are participating, and messages have ranged from “I am grateful to live in a peace loving country,” to “I am grateful for my friends and family.” The idea behind the project is that repeating the expressions of thankfulness may help them become habit. One of the program’s sponsor’s said, “The thought is, if you actively express your gratitude, it may create a daily habit of being thankful.” In the day and age, we can all use a little more practice at appreciating the little things, and the Gratitude Graffiti Project is a creative way to spread a little holiday cheer.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, November 26, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.