Thom Hartmann on the News: August 19, 2013
You need to know this. It turns out that Republican obstructionism is quite costly for big business. A new report from the Huffington Post found that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn't getting much return for the $69.5 million dollars they invested in Republican candidates in the last two elections. In fact, Republicans have blocked many of the measures that the Chamber supports, and supported many efforts that the Chamber opposed. According to Huffington, the Chamber of Commerce is urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and provide funding for infrastructure improvements, but Republicans refuse to allow either effort to move forward. The Chamber also pushed lawmakers to oppose Obamacare, the Dodd-Frank Act, and the President's nominees for the NLRB and the CFPB, yet Republicans have gone along with nominations, and stand little chance of repealing healthcare or Wall Street reform. The Chamber of Commerce just isn't getting much for their money. Hard-right conservative lawmakers aren't only creating problems for their party, and for our nation – they are failing to do the bidding of their corporate masters. In the past two election cycles, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce helped get 22 House Republicans and 10 Senate Republicans elected. However, 19 of those House members and six of those Senators aren't living up to the Chamber's expectations. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has not announced yet how much they will be spending in the 2014 election, but many Republicans may find themselves off of the big business donation list. Hard-right lawmakers still have Big Oil and the Koch Brothers to fall back on, but who knows, maybe Republicans will manage to tick off those campaign contributors as well.
In screwed news... Republicans want to make Missouri the next right-to-work-for-LESS state. At the recent conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council, Mossouri's Republican Lt. Governor Peter Kinder said right-wing lawmakers will work to put the issue before voters next year. When state lawmakers failed to pass right-to-work legislation last year, they turned their eyes on repealing prevailing wage laws, and prohibiting unions from using dues for political purposes. And, they're right back at it again, trying to convince voters that right-to-work-for-LESS laws spur economic growth and job creation, despite all evidence to the contrary. According to the Economic Policy Institute, these laws actually cost workers up to $1,500 a year in reduced wages. Right-to-work-for-LESS laws are designed to destroy unions, lower wages, and reduce benefits for workers. Missouri voters may soon have a chance to say “No” to these tactics...hopefully, they won't be fooled by Republican lies.
In the best of the rest of the news...
As of Sunday, every gun purchase in the state of Illinois will be subject to a background check. Governor Pat Quinn signed a measure in to law, which closed a loophole that exempted gun sales between private parties. In a statement, Governor Quinn said, “Making sure guns do not fall into the wrong hands is critical to keeping the people of Illinois safe.” The new measure goes into effect January 1st of next year, and it also requires all gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons to the police within 72 hours. After the law goes into effect, gun buyers must possess a firearm owners identification card, which is issued by the police upon completing criminal and mental background checks, and gun sellers must check with a state agency that the buyer's card is still valid. The vast majority of Illinois residents, and the vast majority of our entire country, support background checks for gun purchases. At least one state is listening to people, who want guns kept our of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
Scientists may have figured out how to repair damaged DNA. According to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers working with the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern University have developed a technique that uses small molecules to remove mutated genes, and replace them with healthy versions. Someday, this method could lead to cures for hundreds of genetic disorders, from cancer, to autism, to Parkinson's disease. Although these cures are still a long way off, this breakthrough is a major step towards DNA repair becoming reality. The process is not perfect yet, but the life-saving possibilities of this technology are endless.
And finally…Virginia is for lovers...and bad drivers. Or, at least, that's what the Arlington County Police Department believes. They just spent $13,000 for a traffic sign that reads, “Don't hit the car in front of you.” Lt. David Green Jr. said the sign is necessary, because the area is “one of the highest accident areas in the country,” and “almost 100 percent of the accidents at this location are rear end collisions.” Many residents are frustrated that tax dollars went to such an obvious sign, and others say it's patronizing and distracting. One woman said that she was dismayed that the police department used “hard-earned tax dollars” to tell her what to do. I guess, if some drivers think police shouldn't tell them not to hit another car, Virginia police have problems that won't be solved with a simple sign.