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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Judge Rules Against Attempt to Strike Down Health Care Law on Religious Grounds

A Missouri Court has struck down a law undermining the Affordable Care Act.

In today’s On the News segment: The RNC released an “autopsy” of the GOP’s 2012 failure; No matter how you calculate it, minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with gains over the past 50 years; A Missouri Court has struck down a law undermining the Affordable Care Act; Days before the landmark DOMA and Prop 8 cases are argued before the Supreme Court, Hillary Clinton has come out in favor of gay marriage, and More.


You need to know this. Yesterday, the RNC released an “autopsy” of the GOP’s 2012 failure. The 100 page, so-called “Growth & Opportunity Project,” highlights America’s rapidly changing demographics, and the Republican Party’s failure to welcome new voices, and new ideas into it’s midst. The author’s wrote, “We have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.” In other words, Conservatives are really good at speaking to other conservatives… and really bad at talking to everybody else. In a breakfast meeting at the Press Club, RNC Chair Reince Priebus addressed the report. He said, “The way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough. Focus groups described our party as ‘narrow-minded,’ ‘out of touch,’ and ‘stuffy old men.’ The perception that we’re the party of the rich continues to grow.” But Priebus is missing the point. The GOP’s problem isn’t communicating their message. Their message is the problem. The Republican party is anti-science, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and anti-worker. Maybe this new report will be their wake up call, and the party will finally move into the 21st century. If not, next time Reince Priebus delivers a report on the GOP – it very well may be a eulogy.

In screwed news… No matter how you calculate it, minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with gains over the past 50 years. That’s the finding in a 2012 study from the Center for Economic Policy Research. The study reads, “By all of the most commonly used benchmarks – inflation, average wages, and productivity – the minimum wage is now far below its historical level.” If wages had kept up with productivity gains since 1968, it would be nearly $22 dollars an hour. Senator Elizabeth Warren cited the study in a Senate Committee Hearing last week, calling for the national minimum wage to be tripled. While questioning University of Massachusetts Amerherst Professor, Dr. Arindrajit Dube, who has studied the economic impact of minimum wage, Warren said, “with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, what happened to the other $14.75? It sure didn’t go to the worker.” Dube said if wages had kept pace with income going to the top 1%, today it would stand at $33 an hour. Productivity gains show Americans are working harder than ever, and profits have skyrocketed over the last half century. It’s time businesses in our nation start rewarding that hard work, and start paying workers a living wage.

In the best of the rest of the news…A Missouri Court has struck down a law undermining the Affordable Care Act. U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Fleming ruled that the law, which allowed employers to deny women contraceptive coverage under a “religious freedom” exemption, violated federal supremacy. Missouri’s Republican Legislature enacted the law last September, overriding a veto by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. It required insurance companies to issues policies which did not cover contraceptives if employers objected to their use for religious reasons. This is a major victory for women in that state, and a victory for the Obama Administration, but we should expect many more battles in the healthcare fight.

Just days before the landmark DOMA and Prop 8 cases are argued before the Supreme Court, Hillary Clinton has come out in favor of gay marriage. In a video posted online Monday by the Human Rights Campaign, the former secretary of state said “gay rights are human rights.” And according to ABC News, Mrs. Clinton is in the majority, as public opinion is now strongly in favor of same-sex marriage – with 58% of our nation supporting the rights of gay and lesbian couple to wed. This a remarkable turnaround, as back in 2004, only 32% of registered voters supported same-sex marriage. Hillary Clinton said, “LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones, and they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage.” And she’s exactly right. Marriage equality is now in the hands of the Supreme Court. Stay tuned.

Free college for every student… that’s the plan proposed by one gubernatorial candidate in Arkansas. Former Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter is running as a democratic candidate in that state, and he believes that every student should have the right to a high-quality college education. According to his new plan, which he calls the Arkansas Promise, students who maintain a 2.5 GPA, and plan to attend a public university in Arkansas, would be eligible to attend college tuition-free. In his proposal, he wrote, “If you wouldn’t hire a football coach who doesn’t aspire to winning the national championship and have a plan to do so, then why would you hire a Chief Executive Officer of the state who doesn’t aspire to make Arkansas the best state in America and have a plan to make it happen.” Mr. Halter recognizes that educating our future leaders is one of the best investments we can make as a nation. Hopefully, the voters of Arkansas also recognize the value in his plan, and that elected leaders in every state take a cue from Bill Halter.

And finally… Today, South Carolina Republicans will choose among 16 candidates in a special congressional primary election. The GOP primary candidates are battling to see who will likely face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch – the sister of comedian Steven Colbert – in the upcoming election for the House seat vacated by Republican Tim Scott. Leading the pack of prospective nominees is disgraced former Governor Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford, who resigned in 2009 after admitting to an extra-marital affair in Argentina. Although Sanford is virtually guaranteed to finish first in today’s primary, he must win more than 50% of the vote to avoid another runoff election. There are several other leading candidates vying for the number two spot, including Teddy Turner – son of CNN founder, Ted Turner. This race sounds like the making of a bad joke… A nude hiker, a comedian’s sister , and the son of a media mogul walk down the Appalachian Trail… I guess the voters of South Carolina will have to choose how this punchline ends.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, March 19, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

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