In today's On the News segment: House Republicans won't give up on their efforts to voucher-ize Medicare; the gender pay gap is getting worse; college tuition costs continue to spike; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. House Republicans won't give up on their efforts to voucher-ize Medicare – and now Representative Paul Ryan wants even more people approaching retirement, to be forced into his voucher scam. In a change from Ryan's prior budgets, which set the Medicare cutoff to age 55, the GOP's newest budget proposal will only allow those 56 and older, to stay in the current Medicare system. Republicans want to provide seniors with a healthcare voucher, which could be used to purchase a private insurance plan, or Medicare. But that so-called choice is a sly attempt to destroy senior's guaranteed health coverage. For many seniors, private insurance plans would be far too expensive, and vouchers would not cover the entire cost of traditional Medicare – leaving seniors to foot the rest of the bill. Healthier, wealthier seniors who could afford the additional costs would have insurance, but many wouldn't be able to afford health care at all. The voucher plan destroys senior's right to guaranteed healthcare coverage, and that's exactly what Paul Ryan and House Republicans want. Last time Ryan proposed this voucher plan, poll-after-poll showed Americans didn't approve, but that isn't stopping him from pushing his privatization efforts again. We must make sure he doesn't succeed. Call Congress now and tell them to stop Paul Ryan from destroying Medicare.
In screwed news... The gender pay gap is getting worse. That's the finding in a new report from the Institute of Women's Policy Research. While the wage gap between sexes narrowed over the past few decades, the trend reversed between 2011 and 2012, as the weekly pay gap grew substantially. According to the report, men saw their weekly median income increase in 2012, to an average of $854, while women saw a decline in weekly pay over the same period. At a median weekly income of $691, on average, women are bringing home $163 less than men each week. Republican austerity is a major factor in the widening wage gap, because many women have been hit by public sector layoffs over the last few years, as state and federal government agencies have struggled with budget cuts. In this day-and-age, it's unacceptable that the gender pay gap still exists, and even worse that the gap is widening.
In the best of the rest of the news...
An Idaho judge took a stand for women's reproductive rights. On Wednesday, Judge B. Lynn Winmill overturned that state's so-called "fetal-pain bill," ruling the law unconstitutional. The Idaho law banned abortions after 20 weeks, violating the Supreme Court's precedent in Roe v Wade. Similar laws are being challenged in states like Arkansas and Georgia. The National Right to Life Committee will appeal Judge Winmill's decision, meaning the case could end up before the Supreme Court. And the Conservative-leaning court could rule in favor of these restrictive abortion laws. For now, the decision is a victory for women in Idaho, and we applaud Judge Winmill for protecting women's reproductive rights.
College tuition costs continue to spike. CNN Money reports that tuition rates rose 8.3% in the 2011-2012 school year, bringing the average cost per year to over $5,000. This is in addition to the 15% hike students faced between 2008 and 2010. And this new report comes as state and local funding for college is at it's lowest level in 25 years. Students today are graduating with record levels of debt. And a slow economy means poor job prospects and lower wages after college. Our nation needs college-educated leaders to compete in a global economy, but increasing costs, a bleak job market, and huge cuts to financial aid make it harder than ever to obtain a college education. Every student should be provided with a free, high-quality education. An educated workforce is a national resource we can't do without, and we should be investing in the leaders of our future.
The unemployment rate is at it's lowest level since December of 2008. The Department of Labor released February jobs numbers this morning, showing the economy added 236,000 job last month, and the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.7%. This is the sixth straight month of unemployment below 8%, and last month marks three uninterrupted years of private sector job growth. But the Republican austerity measures, which are beginning to impact our nation, will undo much of this economic growth. Because of the GOP's refusal to close tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires, 700,000 Americans may find themselves out of work before the end of this year. At the end of this month, Congress will have another opportunity to stop Republican austerity in the budget debate. We must make sure they reverse these spending cuts before these employment gains turn into job losses.
And finally... After losing her wallet during a night out with friends, Brianna Priddy didn't expect to see her ID again. So when the Applebee's waitress asked a group of patrons for their ID's, she was quite surprised when a woman in the group handed over Priddy's own stolen identification. Ms. Priddy calmly took the group's drink order, and then called police, who arrested the woman for suspicion of theft, identify theft, and criminal impersonation. The strangest part is that the thief was 26, so she didn't need a fake ID to get a drink. Cheers to Brianna for her quick thinking that put this thief behind bars...that's something we can all drink to.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, March 8, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.