On the News With Thom Hartmann: New Reports Finds 44 Percent of Americans One Financial Shock Away From Ruin, and More

In today’s On the News segment: A stunning new report finds that 44% of Americans are just one financial shock away from complete ruin; state and local governments are taxing the super-rich at half the rate they tax the poor; the student-loan delinquency rate rose 22% from 2005 to 2007; and more.

Shane Farnan here – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news…

You need to know this. Welcome to America, where half the nation lives right on the razor’s edge. A stunning new report out of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, finds that 44% of Americans are just one financial shock away from complete ruin. Nearly half the nation doesn’t have enough savings to keep them out of poverty for more than 3 months, should they suffer a job loss, an accident, a sickness, or other financial setback. Another recent study out of the Consumer Federation of American, found that 40% of all American households live paycheck-to-paycheck, with virtually no savings. This is what’s become of the once valued American middle class after thirty years of trickle-down Reaganomics. And it’s the main reason why our economy continues to falter – our nation’s working people and consumers don’t have enough money to spend. Let’s roll back the Reagan tax cuts – put in place a new wealth tax on everyone making over a billion dollars and redistribute some of that wealth down to working people, who will actually spend it. Go to NoBillionaires.com.

In screwed news… Why are the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer? Because state and local governments are taxing the super-rich at half the rate they tax the poor. That’s the conclusion of a new study out of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which examined state, local, property, and sales taxes around the nation. According to the results, the poorest 20% of Americans pay an effective tax rate of 11%. And the middle 20% pay a 9.4% rate. But guess how much the top 1% pays? Just a measly 5.6% – half the tax rate of the poor. In some states around the nation, like Washington, Texas, Florida, and South Dakota, which have no state income tax, the poor are paying tax rates six-times higher than the top 1%. This disparity has a lot to do with states moving away from progressive income taxes, and toward regressive sales taxes. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party wants you to believe that half the nation doesn’t pay taxes – and that half the nation is comprised of “takers.” But that’s not the reality. In a country where the top 1% pay half – or as little as a sixth – of the taxes the poor pay – then who are the real takers?

In the best of the rest of the news…

The situation for college students in America continues to deteriorate. A new report published by FICO Labs, finds that the student-loan delinquency rate rose 22% from 2005 to 2007 – with more than 15% of all students being forced into default on their loans. The rapidly increasing price of college tuition, the cutbacks in government assistance for students, and the non-existent job market, are all conspiring together to saddle our next generation of leaders with enormous piles of debt. As the report notes, “in 2005, the average U.S. student loan debt was $17,233. By 2012, it had ballooned to more than $27,253 – an increase of 58 percent in seven years.” How are our American workers supposed to compete with the rest of the world, and take risks, when they’re so deep in the hole by the time they graduate? We need to be sending our young people to college for free, like many advanced European nations already do.

Nearly two years after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan – its effects continue to be felt around the planet. Power plant operator TEPCO has launched a seafood monitoring program in the waters just off the crippled nuclear facility – and they are still pulling up highly-contaminated fish. In fact – a recently caught fish was found to have more than 2,500-times the legal limit of radiation in it. Levels of contamination this high suggest that the Fukushima plant is still leaking considerable amounts of radiation. In fact, this new fish was found to have ten times more radiation, than fish caught last August – suggesting that radiation levels around the Fukushima plant are still increasing – despite TEPCO, and government officials, saying the nuclear crisis is completely under control. How much more evidence does the world need that nuclear power is a bad idea??

Don’t declare that the Republican election rigging effort is over just yet. After a series of denouncements and legislative defeats, many are saying Republicans will soon completely abandon their plans to change how Electoral College votes are counted in blue states, in order to put Democrats at a disadvantage. However, in Pennsylvania, both Governor Corbett and the state Senate Majority Leader still support the plan. In fact, in Pennsylvania – they’re working on a new scheme, which will dole out Electoral College votes proportionally, based on the popular vote in the state – a move that will also greatly benefit Republicans. Also, we can’t take Republican Governors like Rick Snyder at their word, when they say they’ve abandoned their scheme. Snyder said the same thing about Right-to-Work-for-less legislation last year – and then immediately reversed his position. These guys won’t back down that easily…stay tuned.

And finally…we all know the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a first grader with a gun. Lawmakers in the Missouri state Senate are considering legislation that will require all first graders in that state to take a gun safety training course. Funding for the course would be provided by a grant from the NRA – which is more eager to get new, young customers hooked on buying guns, instead of actually preventing gun violence and accidents. So kids will be forced to learn how to safely use guns in 1st grade – yet Missouri doesn’t require any sexual education classes. And considering that Missouri’s young people have some of the highest STD rates in the nation – maybe lawmakers should focus on teaching kids about their body – rather than turning them into gun-toting vigilantes with Batman lunchboxes.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, January 31, 2013. I’m Shane Farnan – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.