On the News With Thom Hartmann: Unionized Public Water Service Workers Are Striking Against Privatization in Detroit, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Unionized public water service workers in Detroit are risking their jobs by going on strike to protest a new contract signed by the city that hands over water management to a private corporation known as EMA Inc.; if Romney succeeds, then in just ten years there will be 72 million Americans without health insurance; a new study shows that viewers of presidential debates are most affected by the frame in which the media puts the debates; and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news …

You need to know this. On Tuesday, Fox so-called News, the Drudge Report, and the Daily Caller threw together a rather pathetic – and racist – attempt to create an October Surprise against President Obama. And in the end – they failed miserably. Yes – the kings of the rightwing media bubble released what they called “Obama’s Other Race Speech” yesterday evening, which they promised would create controversy and unleash accusations of racism against the President. It did neither. That’s because the so-called bombshell video was already well-known and had been publicly available on the web ever since he gave the speech 5 years ago in 2007. The video shows then-Senator Barack Obama speaking at Hampton University in front of a largely African American crowd. In the speech, Obama accurately pointed out that when Hurricane Andrew hit mostly-white parts of Florida, the federal government waived the requirement for local matching funds for rebuilding, but when Katrina hit mostly-black New Orleans, the Bush Administration still wanted the city to pay the matching funds. And to Fox News, that was a declaration of a race war. Oddly – Fox News already aired the speech back in 2007, believing that it would cost Obama the Democratic nomination. It didn’t – so now they’re dusting the video off again five years later to try again. The Mitt Romney campaign is denying any involvement in the video re-release. White House reporter at Mediate, Tommy Christopher, best summed up the whole fiasco when he wrote, “This will be remembered as the day Sean Hannity, Matt Drudge, Tucker Carlson, and much of the right wing prepared to board their white resentment mothership, only to have it crash and burn.”

In screwed news … There is little difference between Obamacare and Romneycare, but there are significant differences between Obamacare and the sort of health reform Mitt Romney wants to bring to America should he win the White House. Romney released some details of his new health reform plan in a recent op-ed for the New England Journal of Medicine last week. But an analysis of Romney’s plan by the health care research foundation of the Commonwealth Fund, found that Romney’s plan will drastically swell the ranks of the uninsured. If Romney succeeds, then in just ten years there will be 72 million Americans without health insurance. That’s 12 million more people without health insurance than if no health reform were ever passed. In other words, Romney will make the health care crisis in America much worse. On the other hand, under Obamacare, which Romney is pledging to repeal, the number of uninsured Americans is set to fall from 48 million in 2011 to 27 million in 2022. Roughly forty-thousand Americans die every year because they don’t have health insurance. That’s the equivalent of thirteen 9/11s every single year. Mitt Romney doesn’t just propose ignoring those horrifying numbers – his plan will make them worse.

In the best of the rest of the news…

More bad news for Republicans trying to rig the election. One day after a Pennsylvania judge blocked his state’s controversial Voter Suppression ID law from going into effect before the election, a similar law in Mississippi was put on a hold. The Department of Justice has ordered Mississippi to hand over data proving that the law won’t disproportionately harm minority viewers. That move effectively prevents the law from taking effect before November. Down in Texas, another Voter Suppression ID law was struck down after that state also failed to prove that the law wouldn’t disenfranchise minority viewers. It’s clear what these laws are all about – kicking the young, the old, minorities, and the poor off the voting rolls so they can’t vote for Democrats. It’s time “we the people” fight back against these laws by demanding a federal right to vote.

The war on unions and the privatization of our commons are coming to a head in Detroit, Michigan. Unionized public water service workers are risking their jobs by going on strike to protest a new contract signed by the city that hands over water management to a private corporation known as EMA Inc. Under the $17 million contract, 80% of the unionized workers stand to lose their jobs and the city’s water supply will now be operated to make rich investors richer. This is the great crisis our nation is facing – the privatization of the public commons. Keep an eye on this story.

Kalamazoo, Michigan is taking on the failed drug war. On Monday night, city commissioners voted unanimously to decriminalize marijuana. The ordinance was pushed for by a city attorney who argued that marijuana arrests are so frequent they are preventing law enforcement from responding to more serious crimes. That attorney, Clyde Robinson, said, “The significance of having officers freed up to respond to calls of service instead of being tied up processing an arrest cannot be understated.” Let’s hope other cities join Kalamazoo.

And finally … if you want to come out of tonight’s debate knowing the importance of policy and where each candidate stands on the issues – don’t watch the corporate media. A new study out of Ohio State University shows that viewers of Presidential debates are most affected by the frame in which the media puts the debates. Researchers showed young Americans clips from the 2004 and 2008 Presidential debate. Those Americans were then given media coverage of the debates to read. One group was given coverage focused strictly on policy, the other group given coverage that focused on the debate as a sporting event – who won, who lost. Researchers found that viewers’ impressions of the debate were directly affected by how the debate was framed in the post-debate coverage. When it was framed like a sporting event, viewers didn’t learn anything about policy and where the candidates stand on the issues – you know – the important stuff. Tonight – expect the corporate media to frame the debate as a sporting event. They cover politics like a horserace to jack up ratings, because gladiator competitions are more interesting than policy. So if you want to know about the issues that really matter – then watch for that media spin and ignore it.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, October 03, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.