In today’s On the News segment: The Newt Gingrich campaign is sinking, austerity is hurting the British economy even more than previously thought, more bad news is coming out of Afghanistan, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Today is the final day of arguments before the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of Obamacare. Yesterday’s bruising interrogation by the five-right Justices on the High Court put the cornerstone of President Obama’s health reform law – the individual mandate – in jeopardy. And today – the high court will determine just how much of the health reform law should be struck down if the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional. The court could strike down just the individual mandate or it could rule the entire law as unconstitutional. Also today – the Justices will hear arguments on whether or not Obamacare’s provision to extend Medicaid coverage within the states is unconstitutional. Tens of millions of Americans who depend on Obamacare to get access to health insurance are worried the five unelected right-wing Justices on the court seem poised to rule based on politics rather than what promotes the General Welfare of the nation. This was the greatest fear of Thomas Jefferson who wrote – after the 1803 Marbury v. Madison case when the Supreme Court first took on the power to strike down laws passed by Congress and signed by the President – that our Constitution had become a “mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please.” Today – that wax constitution is being shaped by hard-right justices beholden to the for-profit health insurance industry in our nation that is killing off tens of thousands of Americans every year by denying them health insurance and life-saving procedures.
It might not be too long before our economy gets screwed by Wall Street. The corporate corruption of our government is most glaring when it comes to regulating Wall Street. According to a new report released today by Public Citizen – lawmakers who oppose the Volcker Rule, which says banks can’t gamble with your checking account money, receive on average four times more in campaign contributions from Wall Street than those lawmakers who support the Volcker Rule. In total – Members of Congress opposing the Volcker Rule have collected more than $66 million since 2010 from the banksters – which works out to about $388,000 per Member. While most Americans are horrified by this blatant buy-off of our Congress – Wall Street considers it a worthwhile investment and the Supreme Court says it’s legal.
In the best of the rest of the news…
George Zimmerman is still a free man more than a month after he murdered 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. But public outrage sweeping the nation is now prompting local police to re-launch their investigation. On Tuesday – a report came out that the initial lead investigator in the case wanted to pursue manslaughter charges against Zimmerman, but was told by the state attorney’s office that there was insufficient evidence to do so. Sanford police are not re-interviewing witnesses and examining new evidence that could lead to charges eventually being brought against Zimmerman. Unfortunately – with the “Stand Your Ground” law on the books in Florida – it’s nearly impossible to investigate what might be a racially-motivated murder as long as Zimmerman claims he was “defending” himself and there are no witnesses to testify otherwise. We can thank the Koch Brother’s American Legislative Exchange Council for this law, that has essentially legalized murder in America to boost profits – and provide protection from lawsuits – for Wal-Mart and the NRA, the gun sellers who brought it to ALEC.
More bad news coming out of Afghanistan. In two separate instances this week – Afghan Security forces gunned down three coalition soldiers, suggesting tensions between Afghan and foreign troops are beginning to boil over after a decade of Bush’s war. The administration’s current exit strategy hinges on having a fully-trained Afghan security force ready to go – but those same security forces are increasingly turning their guns on U.S. soldiers. In fact – so far this year – Afghan Security forces have been responsible for one-third of all U.S. troop deaths. Right now – more Americans than ever before oppose the Afghanistan war. The writing on the wall is clear – we need to get out of Bush’s never-ending fiasco.
The Newt Gingrich campaign is sinking. Way behind in delegates to Romney and Santorum, and his campaign now in more debt than it has cash on hand – Gingrich has already replaced his campaign manager and now plans to lay off one-third of his campaign staff. According to one source within the campaign – the new Gingrich strategy is centered on “Core Gingrich” – getting back to “big ideas and positive solutions.” In reality though – Gingrich just needs a new billionaire to step in to single-handedly fund his campaign because Shelly Adelson has stopped giving Gingrich millions.
Austerity is hurting the British economy even more than previously thought. Revised numbers out of the UK’s Office for National Statistics show that the British economy shrank by three-tenths of a percent in the last quarter of 2011 – a bigger dip than was originally calculated. British household incomes also plummeted at the end of 2011. Pressure is now growing on the Bank of England to pursue stimulus measures to keep the British economy from falling into a recession. This is what austerity does – it kills economies. And it’s the reason why Paul Ryan’s budget, which brings austerity on steroids to the United States, is designed to crash the economy just before the 2012 election.
And finally…our planet may be dangerously close to a tipping point when it comes to global climate change. That’s the message coming out of the “Planet Under Pressure” conference in London this week, where scientists warned that irreversible catastrophic damage to the planet is just around the corner unless nations radically act THIS decade to cut CO2 emissions. According to scientists – if emissions continue at this pace – the global temperatures will rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 – leading to mass extinctions, freak weather, and even “contemporary civilization’s collapse.” Unfortunately – as long as oil barons – who care more about their quarterly profits than about the planet we’re passing on to our children – retain control of our Congress – then real action on climate change in this country is impossible.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, March 28th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.