In today's On the News segment: The Obama administration has delayed a provision of the Affordable Care Act related to businesses with over 50 employees that would have been required to provide healthcare to workers or pay a fine, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced that one of the major provisions in the Affordable Care Act will be delayed for one year. Under the law, starting in 2014, businesses with over 50 employees would have been required to provide healthcare to workers or pay a fine. That provision will now not take effect until 2015, after next year's midterm elections. Assistant Treasury Secretary Mark Mazur said, "We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively." The change will not effect people who buy insurance individually, or small businesses planning to purchase healthcare through new insurance exchanges. It will also spare large employers a $3,000 per-worker fine for failing to provide workers with coverage. However, during the 2014 transition period, the Treasury Department will encourage employers to maintain or expand insurance coverage, and ensure businesses follow all other requirements under the law. The majority of Obamacare will go into effect as planned, and is scheduled to start on January 1st of next year. Americans without healthcare coverage will be able to access affordable care, and small businesses will gain access to lower cost plans in states that have established insurance exchanges. Valarie Jarrett, a White House Senior Adviser, said healthcare exchanges will be in place on October 1st, and "small businesses and ordinary Americans will be able to go to one place to learn about their coverage options and make side-by-side comparisons of each plan's price and benefits before they make their decisions." However, even those who support Obamacare question whether the exchanges are on schedule as a direct result of Republican obstruction in GOP-led states.
In screwed news... Tax dodging corporations are costing our country billions. A study by the Office of Management and Budget found that loopholes and international tax havens have reduced corporate taxes from the $370 billion collected in 2007, to nearly half that - $190 billion, by 2010. And, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, corporate tax dodgers paid just 12.6 percent of their profits in income tax in 2010. That's only about one third of the 35 percent tax rate that Republicans are always complaining about. So, while our infrastructure crumbles and Americans are feeling the pain of austerity, corporations are avoiding paying their fair share of our nation's financial burdens. CEO's claim that the US tax rate doesn't offer a fair picture, as they are also subject to taxes locally, and around the world. However, the GAO report found that even when state, local, and foreign taxes were factored in, corporations are still only paying about 17 percent. Democratic Senator Carl Levin reviewed the report and said, "Some U.S. multinational corporations like to complain about the U.S. 35 percent statutory tax rate, but what they don't like to admit is that hardly any of them pay anything close to it."
In the best of the rest of the news...
On Tuesday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a measure that would have allowed people to bring guns into establishments that serve alcohol. During a press conference, Governor Quinn was joined by parents of gun violence victims, and said he objects to at least nine provisions in the proposed law. Republican law-makers, joined by a few Democrats that serve rural districts, passed the measure by huge majorities. If the law went into effect, it would have allowed permit holders to carry multiple guns, have no restrictions on clip size, and would have allowed weapons into some bars and restaurants. Governor Quinn said, "This is a flawed bill with serious safety problems that must be addressed." A federal appeals court recently struck down that state's ban on residents carrying concealed weapons in public, and gave lawmakers six months to draft a new law. Although the measure is currently blocked by Governor Quinn, the state legislature only needs a three-fifths majority to override his veto, and the measure has already passed by a higher margin. Gun control advocates hope lawmakers will change the bill to comply with Governor Quinn's concerns, but fear the new concealed carry measure will become Illinois law regardless.
More Banksters get to write off their crimes as a cost of doing business. A federal judge has approved HSBC's record-breaking $1.92 billion dollar settlement, which will resolve charges that the bank laundered money for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. Despite "heavy public criticism", U.S. District Judge John Gleeson approved the settlement, saying the decision was "easy, for it accomplishes a great deal." Judge Glesson said he read various editorials suggesting that HSBC was "too big to indict," but he felt "much of what might have been accomplished by a criminal conviction has been agreed to in the [deferred prosecution agreement]." The bank's spokesman, Rob Sherman, said they have taken "extensive" steps to prevent financial crime, and said, "while we are making good progress, there is much more to do." HSBC blamed "compliance lapses" for the scandal, but did not have to admit to any criminal wrong-doing. Once again, it appears "too-big-to-fail" means "too-big-to-jail."
And finally... Jack Burton, owner of Nutshell pub, has had to get creative to maximize business in his 15-foot by 7-foot establishment. The tiny pub has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the smallest in Britain. To make the most of his space, Mr. Burton had to ban a 6-foot, 7-inch customer from visiting during peak hours. Although Adam Thurkettle is a regular customer, he has to visit the pub during off-peak hours. Mr. Burton said, "Adam's a real gentle giant. But on a busy night he takes up such a lot of space that I have to turn away at least four normal-sized drinkers." Thankfully, Adam, who works as a "tree surgeon", says he understands the restriction. He said, "My size is a great advantage when moving tree trunks, but can be a handicap when I prop up the bar."
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, July 3, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.