In today’s On the News segment: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the non-profit group he founded called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, each received a letter containing the deadly poison ricin; Congressional Budget Office says tax breaks will cost our nation $12 trillion dollars over the next decade; California legislators are trying again to pass a bill of rights for domestic workers, and more.
You need to know this. Yesterday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the non-profit group he founded called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, each received a letter containing the deadly poison ricin. Today, a mail facility intercepted another potentially poisoned letter addressed to President Obama. The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Intelligence Division of the NYPD are investigating the letters, which ABC News reported were postmarked from Louisiana. Yesterday’s letters contained threats against Mayor Bloomberg, and referred to the debate over gun control. Several reports indicate that poison-filled letters sent earlier this year to President Obama, and Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, were also the result of the gun control debate. Senator Wicker was one of sixteen senators who voted to end the filibuster and allow a vote on background checks. Thankfully, the letters discovered earlier this year were intercepted before causing any harm, and there were no signs of serious symptoms in those who opened letters yesterday. Mayor Bloomberg issued a statement, saying, “there’s 12,000 people that are going to get killed this year with guns, and 19,000 that are going to commit suicide with guns, and we’re not going to walk away from these efforts.” He will not be intimidated by so-called gun advocates who refuse to accept any reasonable limitation on the right to own weapons of war, and we shouldn’t be either. We can’t give up on efforts to prevent the needless tragedies that occur every single day because of guns. Several states have enacted gun control measures in the months since the Sandy Hook shooting because lawmakers listened to the will of the people. The majority of people in our country support these efforts, and we must remind lawmakers in every state that they work for us, not for the gun lobby. This won’t be an easy fight, but we can win it if we stand together.
In screwed news… According to the Congressional Budget Office, tax breaks will cost our nation $12 trillion dollars over the next decade. Unsurprisingly, most of those loopholes will benefit the wealthy. In just this year alone, more than half of the $900 billion in benefits will go directly to the top 20 percent of earners. And, most of those tax breaks – 17 percent of total benefits – will go to the top 1 percent. The wealthy will also see huge breaks because of capital gains loopholes, the income cap on the FICA tax, and mortgage interest deductions. The only benefit that is spread evenly is the tax break from employer-funded health insurance, which provides relief for middle class earners. And, those in the lowest income brackets – 40 percent of all workers – will only benefits from 10 percent of all tax breaks over the next decade. The wealthy elite are already raking in the majority of the profits, despite huge increases in worker productivity, and these tax breaks just allow them to hoard even more cash. People who make a living sitting by the pool collecting dividend checks shouldn’t get off easy while real working people struggle to make ends meet. It’s time that the rich start paying their fare share.
In the best of the rest of the news…
In all the recent debate over immigration, one of Republicans’ favorite talking points is that immigrants are a drain on our nation, and must pay back taxes before they can ever be citizens. Well, a new study by Harvard Medical School just blew that talking point right out of the water. The analysis found that immigrants generated a whopping $115 billion dollar Medicare surplus from 2002 to 2009, while natural-born Americans sucked $28 billion out of the program. Researchers say they may have even undercounted immigrants’ Medicare contributions, because they didn’t account for undocumented workers, who won’t be able to draw from the program in the future. Overall, the researchers found that immigrants are vital to the sustainability of government programs like Medicare. It’s doubtful that this study will lead any Republicans to change their position on immigration. But, at least now we have proof that those GOP talking points are as ridiculous as they sound.
California lawmakers don’t give up easily. Legislators in that state are trying again to pass a bill of rights for domestic workers. Last year, both the state Assembly and state Senate passed legislation to protect housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers, but it was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. At the time, he said the bill “raised a number of unanswered questions, like how the elderly will deal with additional costs, and how the state will regulate the new protections. Hopefully, this new bill will outline how those concerns should be addressed, and domestic workers will be given the right to fair pay and adequate time off. According to The Think Progress Blog, 60 percent of these workers don’t even make minimum wage, and only 2 percent receive employer-provided health insurance. Domestic workers put in long hours caring for the elderly and the disabled, and they’re denied overtime pay, meal breaks, and time off to see a doctor when they’re sick. The new domestic workers bill of rights has already been passed by the California Assembly, and it will soon be considered by that state’s senate. Let’s hope this time California puts an end to the abuse of domestic workers.
And finally… According to the NRA, you’re never too young to earn a lifetime membership. The National Rifle Association made 8-year-old Josh Welch a lifetime member, after the boy was suspended from school for chewing a pastry into the shape of a gun. The Maryland elementary school received wide-spread criticism over the boy’s suspension, but said they have a zero tolerance policy on guns – even those that are made from a Pop-Tart. Last night, the NRA gave Josh the lifetime membership, firearm safety tips, and a gun-shaped pastry during a Republican fundraiser. Josh admitted that he doesn’t even know what the NRA is, and he’s the only person in his family with a membership. If the NRA is resorting to enrolling an 8-year-old to boost its membership, their decline into obscurity may be happening even faster than we could have hoped.
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, May 30, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.