In today’s On the News segment: House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal that could prevent the next government shutdown, but don’t start celebrating just yet; states that refuse to expand Medicaid are throwing away billions in federal funding; our government sold its last remaining shares in General Motors; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal that could prevent the next government shutdown, but don’t start celebrating just yet. Tuesday night, Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Paul Ryan announced an $85 billion dollar budget agreement. If Congress accepts the plan, it would partially offset the next round of sequester cuts, and save important programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but it does not address the budget-slashing that already took place. And, it does not extend long-term unemployment benefits, or ask the wealthy to contribute more to our nation in taxes. In order to raise revenue, the budget deal would require federal workers to pay higher premiums for their pensions, lower payments to student loan collectors, and impose new security fees for airline travelers. This budget plan would also eliminate virtually all of the sequester cuts for the Pentagon, it does nothing to address the cuts that have already hit programs like Head Start, Meals on Wheels, and Section 8 housing. Apparently, these are the drastic measures we must go to in order to prevent another government shutdown. Democrats appear to be giving up a lot, yet this deal won’t even prevent another budget standoff over the debt limit. For the past five years, Republicans have pushed more and more austerity on our nation, and this budget does nothing to reverse that trend. Not only is austerity exactly the opposite of what we should be doing to help our economy, it’s also the wrong choice for the American people. No nation, in the history of the world, has ever cut its way to prosperity, and we won’t be the first. It’s time to stop this pattern of taking from those who have the least, while never asking those at the top to pay their fair share. It’s time to put an end to austerity, and start investing in our nation once again.
In screwed news… States that refuse to expand Medicaid are throwing away billions in federal funding. But, taxpayers in those states will still be paying the federal taxes that send Medicaid money to other states. Millions of Americans aren’t getting the health care that they’re paying for simply because Republican governors and state legislators refuse to work with our President. Wisconsin alone will lose $1.8 billion federal dollars by 2022 because of Governor Scott Walker and his Right-wing cronies, and Texas will miss out on more than $9 billion thanks to Rick Perry. More importantly, these Republican lawmakers are preventing millions of Americans from getting the health care that they so desperately need. Many people make too little to qualify for health insurance subsidies, and too much to qualify for Medicaid in their states. These partisan lawmakers would rather see people go without health care, than do anything that could help Obamacare function well. This isn’t about costs or budgets or deficits – it’s about politics – and it’s no excuse to prevent people from getting health care.
On Monday, our government sold its last remaining shares in General Motors. Taxpayers no longer own a piece of that car company, but we helped save millions of American jobs. In 2010 alone, the auto bailout saved about 1.5 million jobs, and kept a major manufacturing industry alive. Government loans of $49.5 billion to General Motors accounted for the largest portion of the auto bailout, but taxpayers got all but $10.5 billion of that back. That’s a far better return than we got on any of the bank bailouts, and it’s a small price to pay for keeping good manufacturing jobs here at home. According to the Center for Automotive Research, by saving those jobs, and ensuring that the auto industry had a future, the auto bailout boosted personal income by $284 billion dollars from 2009 to 2010, and, it saved more than 4 million jobs. This isn’t just a story of success at General Motors, but it’s an example of how government can work for the people.
According to RadCast.org, radiation levels in the South are starting to come down, but levels in the Southwest are rising. Sharon, Georgia is down to 38 counts per minute, with spikes of 49, and Taylors, South Carolina is down to 40 counts per minute, with spikes of 55. In the Midwest, Colorado Springs is 59 counts per minute, with spikes of 69, and Frederic, Wisconsin is averaging 46, with spikes of 59. In the Southwest, Tucson, Arizona is averaging 50 counts per minute, with spikes of 79. And, in the Northwest, Seattle, Washington is sitting at 31, with spikes of 45 counts per minute. RadCast.org reminds us that their alert level is 100 counts per minute, and they are monitoring levels throughout our nation to keep us informed.
And finally… Leo Grand is homeless, but hopefully not for long. A young programmer named Patrick McConlogue approached him with an offer – take $100 dollars or take an opportunity to learn how to write code. Mr. Grand, who lost his job at MetLife in 2011, decided to learn to code – and he created his own app – Trees for Cars – which just launched at the Apple Store. His app helps users save the environment by carpooling, and calculating how much CO2 they’re saving by riding together. And, because the proceeds will go to Leo Grand, he will be able to further his programming education, get himself off the streets, and help users fight climate change. In an official statement about his new app, Mr. Grand said, “Trees for Cars is a great way to build relationships, strengthen communities, help each-other financially and energy wise, all under the umbrella of saving the environment.” There’s an old saying – “If you give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you will feed him for a lifetime.” Apparently the same goes for teaching a man to code.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, December 11, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.