On the News With Thom Hartmann: Senate Leaders Reached a Deal Monday to End the Economic Standoff, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Monday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell negotiated a deal to end the economic standoff; a deal may be in the works to avoid the debt limit, but technically we’re already in default; local officials in North Carolina want to see that state’s ban on same-sex marriage overturned; and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Monday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell negotiated a deal to end the economic standoff. Their plan would temporarily fund the government and lift the debt ceiling, and leave the next round of sequester cuts in place. In addition, their deal would require income verification for Obamacare recipients, and establish a committee to work out a broader budget plan by December 13th. In response, the House Republicans put forward another plan of their own. In addition to the provisions put forward by the Senate, the House plan would also delay the medical device tax for two years and require Congress to sign up for Obamacare – without any employer contribution. The House proposal would also eliminate much of the Treasury’s ability to take “extraordinary measures” to avoid defaulting on our debt in the future. However, the Obama Administration has already rejected the latest House plan. A spokesperson for the White House said, “The President has said repeatedly that members of Congress don’t get to demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget an pass the nation’s bills.” And, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “Let’s be clear, the House Republican legislation will not pass the Senate.” So, with less than 48 hours until we default on our debt, it looks like we’re left with the Senate plan to solve this problem. But, the upper chamber can’t move forward without “unanimous consent,” and that means that hard-Right senators like Ted Cruz could stop the Senate from expediting a plan. As it stands now, it’s unclear if a resolution is any closer or even farther away. Americans, and the world, are watching to see whether Senate leaders can find a way to bypass this political gridlock. Stay tuned.

In screwed news… A deal may be in the works to avoid the debt limit, but technically we’re already in default. Although the United States has issued payments to creditors and bond holders, our government has already broken some very important economic promises. As Felix Salmon of Reuters explains, the Treasury’s own definition of default is not meeting the “legal obligations of the U.S.” And, not paying employees and contractors breaks those obligations. The fact is – Tea Party obstruction has already harmed many Americans, and cast doubt over our nation’s ability to pay our debts. According to Felix Salmon, “As a result, economic growth in both the U.S. and the rest of the world will be lower than it should be.” The last time Republicans brought us to the edge of an economic cliff, it cost our nation thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. And, it may take time to fully grasp the real cost of this round of economic hostage-taking.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Local officials in North Carolina want to see that state’s ban on same-sex marriage overturned. As a show of support for same-sex equality, a country register of deeds has started accepting gay marriage applications. Although he cannot add his signature yet, Drew Reisinger started collecting the applications today, because of the likelihood that the discriminatory law will eventually be overturned. Mr. Reisinger said that because the Supreme Court struck down a key provision in DOMA, he made the decision to prepare for the day when North Carolina’s law is changed as well. And, he’s not alone in his beliefs. Even that state’s Attorney General, Roy Cooper, has personally come out in support of gay marriage, but he is committed to upholding the law in his state. For the time being, that law prohibits same-sex couples from marrying the person who they love. However, when it’s finally overturned – at some point in the future – marriage applications can be signed quickly, and happy couples can tie the knot. Thanks to some fine civil servants in North Carolina, same-sex couples will be able to marry as soon as this law is overturned.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is standing up for DREAMers. Governor Christie has announced his support for legislation that allows undocumented immigrants in his state to pay in-state college tuition rates. He wants to pass the bill – called the New Jersey Tuition Equality Act – during his lame-duck session before the next election. If the measure is approved, it would guarantee in-state tuition rates for students who have lived in New Jersey for at least three years, and who possess a high school diploma or GED. At a gala hosted by the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, Governor Christie said, “We need to make sure that we continue to work on issues that will make our children believe that they have a bigger and brighter future. We need to get to work in the state legislature around things like making sure that there’s tuition equality for everyone in New Jersey.” Supporting equality for undocumented immigrants may not make Chris Christie a favorite among Republicans, but it’s the right thing to do for the DREAMers, and the right thing for the state of New Jersey.

And finally… Just one serving of bacon a day can lower a man’s fertility. According to a new Harvard University study, men who regularly eat processed meat, like bacon, sausage, and hamburgers, can have a much tougher time conceiving a child. However, the researchers also discovered that a diet rich in white fish had the opposite effect by increasing male fertility. It turns out that while the bacon significantly lowered men’s sperm quality, those who consumed white fish on a regular basis had a procreation edge over their counterparts. Dr. Allan Pacey, a fertility expert, said that eating processed meats regularly is already linked to other health issues, so advising them to eat more fish instead of bacon “may improve their health generally.” However, some men may take the results of this study another way… thinking that eating more bacon sounds a lot more enjoyable than a vasectomy.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, October 15, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.