On the News With Thom Hartmann: Mayors Against Illegal Guns Create Grading System to Score Lawmakers on Gun Safety, and More

In today’s On the News segment: The former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that all 104 nuclear power plants in our nation should phased out for newer technology; Mayors Against Illegal Guns will now utilize their own grading system to score lawmakers on their support for gun safety regulations; a new report shows a much better way to reduce entitlement spending, and more.


Here’s Thom for Tuesday…

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. It’s one of Republicans’ favorite lies – that Americans are burdened with the weight of one of the world’s highest tax rates. Unsurprisingly, that could not be further from the truth. A new report from Citizens for Tax Justice shows that in 2010, the United States collected less in taxes as a percentage of GDP than all but two industrialized nations that make up the Organization for Economic Development. Only Mexico and Chile collect less in taxes. According to The Think Progress Blog, the U.S. share of taxes may have increased slightly, as the fiscal cliff deal restored Clinton-era tax rates on incomes over $450,000. However, that modest increase isn’t enough to move our nation up on the OECD taxation list, and it still leaves us far below the average. This report comes just one day before the President officially releases his new budget proposal, which will likely include additional cuts to our social safety net, in exchange for modest tax increases. Once again, our nation will ask those in the lowest income brackets to bear the brunt of spending cuts, while millionaires and billionaires aren’t asked to contribute much at all. This is unacceptable. We should not be implementing more Republican austerity – we should be asking those who can afford it to help invest in our nation, and in our struggling economy. In fact, we shouldn’t be asking them to, we should be demanding it. The super-rich shouldn’t be hoarding cash as the poorest among us are asked to sacrifice. We can start by taxing all income over $1 billion dollars. Find out how at NoBillionaries.com.

In screwed news… In a rare display of blunt criticism, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that all 104 nuclear power plants in our nation should phased out for newer technology. Dr. Gregory Jaczko made his remarks at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, during a session about the Fukushima meltdown in Japan. Despite the unsuccessful, on-going effort to contain radiation at Fukushima’s crippled plant, the nuclear energy industry disagrees with Dr. Jaczko’s assessment. However, he says he has watched as the industry attempt to address nuclear safety concerns, and, “continuing to put Band-Aid on Band-Aid is not going to fix the problem.” The mounting safety concerns at these plants increase the chances that a nuclear catastrophe will occur right here at home. The fact is, many of the plants around our nation were only intended to operate for 40 years. However, reactor owners have received 20-year extensions to keep their plants operating much longer. We applaud the former Chairman’s calls for newer technology…but instead of new nuclear power plants, let’s make the move to green energy. No nukes.

In the best of the rest of the news…

For decades, the National Rifle Association has scored politicians and candidates on their support for, or opposition to, Second Amendment rights. Well, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the gun-control organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, will now utilize their own grading system to score lawmakers on their support for gun safety regulations. Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said, “For decades, the NRA has done an admirable job of tracking to the minute details of how members of Congress stand on gun bills. We’re simply going to do the same.” The group will use the new rating system to pressure lawmakers who refuse to support common-sense gun-control laws. Mayors Against Illegal Guns will also produce a scorecard for legislators, which could sway voters – as well as campaign donors – in the upcoming 2014 midterm election. This is what I call beating them at their own game. The NRA has used their rating system to bully lawmakers for years, pushing them to stop any attempt to enact gun-control legislation. Now the lawmakers brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby will receive a more meaningful “A” rating – and the NRA’s endorsement will continue it’s decline into obscurity.

As the President and Republicans consider cutting vital programs like Medicare and Social Security, a new report shows a much better way to reduce entitlement spending. Health Care For America Now – known as HCAN – performed an analysis of the corporate filings by drug companies, and determined that Big Pharma has been price-gouging Medicare since 2006. That’s the year that the Medicare Part D began, which prohibits the seniors’ health coverage provider from negotiating bulk pricing with drug companies. The 11 prescription-drug giants that HCAN reviewed have generated over $700 billion for Wall Street, and increased their annual profits by 62 percent between 2003 and 2012. So, why is our President even considering asking seniors to take a benefit cut, before we close this black hole in Medicare operating costs? Medicare should be negotiating bulk prices with drug makers, just like the Veterans’ Administration and other large buyers do. This is beyond the typical Republican effort to short-change the poor and elderly, this is a blatant strategy to bankrupt Medicare…and we must not stand for it. Call Congress and the President and tell them to stop the cuts on seniors, and allow Medicare to negotiate with Big Pharma.

And finally… Cookie Monster has been arrested. That’s right… the beloved Sesame Street character was recently detained in Times Square, for allegedly shoving a 2-year-old child. According to the Associated Press, a man dressed as the Sesame Street character was arrested after a family posed for a picture with Cookie Monster, and the child’s parents refused to pay the $2 fee. The criminal charges include aggressive begging, and endangering the welfare of a child. The Associated Press reports that this isn’t the first time a childhood entertainment icon has been detained in Times Square. In December, Super Mario was arrested for allegedly groping a woman, and his case is currently pending. Thanks to the NYPD, Times Square is safe for now… but authorities advise to be on the lookout for Big Bird.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, April 9, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.