2013-09-18 22:08:26

Thom Hartmann on the News: September 18, 2013

You need to know this.  On Wednesday, President Obama raised the pressure on Congressional Republicans, and asked business groups to help avoid another economic crisis.  In a speech before the Business Roundtable, the president urged business leaders to demand that Republicans end their continued “brinksmanship” over two upcoming budget deadlines.  President Obama said, “I'm tired of it, and I suspect you are too.”  In his speech, the president reminded executives that the last time Republicans held our economy hostage, our nation's credit rating was downgraded, consumer confidence dropped, and the stock market fell 17 percent.  He said, “You have never in the history of the United States seen the threat of not raising the debt ceiling [be used] to extort a president or a governing party.  It's irresponsible.”  It's obvious that his comment was directed at Tea Party Republicans who are refusing to raise the debt limit unless the president delays or repeals Obamacare.  Even so-called mainstream Republicans, like House Speaker John Boehner, have threatened to throw our nation into default unless the president submits to more GOP concessions.  Once again, President Obama renewed his promise not to negotiate over our nation's debt ceiling, and said, “What I will not do is create a habit, a pattern whereby the full faith and credit of the United States ends up being a bargaining chip to make policy.”  Many Americans support the President's hard-line stance on fiscal negotiations, and want Republicans to stop the economic terrorism.  We're only weeks away from two important budget deadlines, and this debate is heating up fast.  While Republicans continue to hold their breath and make demands, our economic future hangs in the balance.  The president appears to be holding strong, and it will be interesting to see who blinks first in this fiscal showdown.  Stay tuned.

In screwed news... Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in our nation, and one of the highest rates of poverty.  So, it comes as quite a shock that the Lonestar State is refusing to expand Medicaid, which would give millions of lo- income residents access to the medical care they desperately need.  According to new data released by the U.S. Census, one quarter of Texans did not have health insurance in 2012, and nearly one in five people in that state live in poverty.  Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Republican lawmakers focus on limiting abortion access, subjecting welfare recipients to drug tests, and soliciting more minimum-wage business in their state.  The Medicaid expansion alone would provide insurance coverage for 1.3 million Texans, and it would prevent insurance rates from rising for the rest of the state residents.  But, rather than helping the struggling people of Texas, Rick Perry and his right-wing buddies prefer to attack women, demonize the poor, and do the bidding of big business.

In the best of the rest of the news...

After a horrific mass shooting in our nation's capital, President Obama is taking a stand against gun violence.  According to White House spokesman Jay Carney, the president will implement executive actions to address ongoing shootings, like expanding background checks for online sales and gun shows.  Mr. Carney said, “The president supports, as do an overwhelming majority of Americans, common-sense measures to reduce gun violence.”  Apparently, President Obama is fed up with waiting for gun-industry backed lawmakers to come around.  Even though 90 percent of Americans support background checks, some legislators prefer to take their orders from the NRA, and they've blocked any attempt to pass reasonable gun-control.  Those same lawmakers will likely cause an uproar if President Obama moves forward with these executive actions, but they have left him no other option to reign in the violence.  The president understands that we can't simply stand by and wait for more lives to be lost in senseless shootings.  Congress may be unwilling to act, but President Obama will have the support of many Americans in his fight against gun violence.

Thanks to Obamacare, more than 6 million Americans will pay less than one hundred dollars a month for health insurance.  And, in states that opt to expand Medicaid, many Americans will pay nothing at all.  A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that the combination of new state-level marketplaces and federal subsidies will slash the out-of-pocket premiums for millions.  Although not every state has released insurance rates for their marketplaces, researchers used census data on income levels to calculate who would be eligible for subsidies.  As individuals will only be asked to pay a certain percentage of their income, the researchers were able to calculate the premiums of “silver” level plans.  They concluded that Medicaid expansions and subsidies will provide 12.4 million uninsured Americans with health insurance for less than one hundred bucks a month.  So, despite all the Republican fear mongering about “rate shock” - more than half of uninsured Americans will finally have access to affordable health care.

And finally… Last week, a group of friends teamed up with a local New Zealand beer company to play a prank on one of their pals named Russ.  With the help of local brewery Tui, the group rigged every tap in Russ's home to dispense beer, instead of water.  The prank was recorded on 14 cameras hidden in his home, to document Russ's surprise when he discovered his new-and-improved plumbing.  After testing several faucets throughout the house, Russ went to check underneath his home to investigate, and found his prankster friends laughing on the front lawn.  A Tui spokesman said the group knew people who worked at the brewery, and they had the professional experience needed to rig the plumbing.  The spokesman called the prank “a match made in heaven.”  No word yet on whether Russ decided to keep the newly improved-plumbing, or how much other beer drinkers offered the group to convert more plumbing.

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