Health Insurance Companies Are Charging Women an Extra Billion Dollars Annually

By Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Program | Report

In today’s On the News segment: Health insurance companies are charging women in America an extra billion dollars annually, the backlash against Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan continues, the DOJ says Florida is discriminating against minority voters, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Mitt Romney – the richest man to ever run for President on a major party ticket – cleaned up last night in the Illinois Primary – beating Rick Santorum 47% to 35%. And, as could be expected, Romney’s huge cash advantage helped him win Illinois. He outspent Santorum 7-1 in the state, to pick up at least 41 new delegates to add to his growing lead. Still – if Romney hopes to reach the magic number of 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination before the Republican Convention – he’ll have to collect just less than half of all the remaining delegates. That’s a feat that could be difficult if Newt Gingrich – who placed an abysmal fourth in the Illinois Primary – drops out and hands his supporters off to Santorum. Then again – if multi-millionaire Karl Rove’s SuperPAC “American Crossroads” – which currently has $23.5 million in cash on hand – decides to pick Romney as its guy – then Mitt’s campaign might easily buy the Republican nomination without even getting out of breath.

American Women are screwed. Putting aside the Republican’s war on women for a moment – a new report from the National Women’s Law Center reveals that health insurance companies are charging women in America an extra billion dollars annually, and it’s just good old fashioned gender discrimination. The report finds that the practice of for-profit health insurers charging women more than men for identical coverage is widespread – and states are doing little to stop the rip-off. In the states that don’t ban health insurance gender discrimination, 92% of the best-selling plans charge women more than men. President Obama’s Affordable Care Act would ban this practice nationally – saving women a billion dollars a year. Unfortunately for women – Republicans are working as hard as they can to repeal Obamacare.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The backlash against Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan continues. A number of faith leaders have come forward to blast Ryan’s extremist vision for America, which takes health insurance away from 48 million Americans to pay for a $3 trillion tax cut for the richest 1%. Bishop Gene Robinson said about the budget plan, “The Ryan budget robs the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable of the safety net so integral to their survival. By any measure of civility and regard for one’s neighbor, it’s an immoral disaster.” Ryan’s plan also hands Medicare to for-profit health insurance CEOs, and makes massive cuts to Social Security, setting the stage to hand Social Security’s $2.6 trillion trust fund over to Wall Street. No wonder Wall Street billionaires have reportedly been seen wearing “Paul Ryan for VP” pins.

The Department of Justice says Florida is discriminating against minority voters. Last year, Florida passed a new that clamps down on people helping others to register to vote, and also cuts back on early voting. But the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department is now filing a challenge to the new law in court, claiming that Florida failed to prove that these election law changes will not, “deny or abridge the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.” States with a history of rical discrimination – like Florida – must have any changes to their election laws approved by the Justice Department. Time – and the courts – will tell if Governor Rick Scott’s plan to keep minority voters away from the polls this year works.

Who’s going to foot the bill for climate change? According to a new study out of the Stockholm Environment Institute – increasing greenhouse gases will cost over $2 trillion a year in damage to our planet’s oceans by the end of the century. With warmer oceans comes greater acidification – which wipes out fisheries and coral reefs. Plus, rising sea levels and stronger storms do costly damage to coastlines. Nonetheless – we’re giving tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to transnational oil corporations to accelerate climate change – rather than making them pay for the damage they’re causing. This is not only irresponsible – it’s outright dangerous – and means that future generations of Americans will have to cope with a much harsher planet.

Speaking of climate change – the war on science heads to Tennessee. This week – the Tennessee state legislature passed a bill requiring public schools to teach that there’s a “controversy” over evolution and global warming. As the law states, “The teaching of biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy,” thus school systems must, “present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.” Critics are blasting the legislation – calling it a “monkey bill” that will lead to creationism being taught in classrooms. Something tells me the big oil lobby is behind this too – hoping that a new generation of Americans denying global warming will keep their fossil fuel profits flowing for another generation.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, while leaders in Israel and Iran beat the drum to war – the people living in those nations are calling for peace. Recognizing that they’re the ones who will suffer the most from a war, individual citizens in Iran and Israel are taking to Facebook to reach out to each other, in hopes of finding solidarity and mutual respect. The campaign started when an Israeli couple created the Facebook group “Israelis Heart Iran.” Then, a group of Iranians responded with their own “Iranians Love Israel.” The two groups have garnered thousands of followers and responses since going online.

And finally, Ron Paul – the only candidate in the Republican race for President who has not won a state – is coming out against Secret Service protection. All major candidates for President are entitled to Secret Service protection within 120 days of a general election – but Paul is calling that a “form of welfare.” That’s no big surprise since Ron Paul also thinks federal aid to college students, health insurance assistance to poor people, free public roads, and cops and firefighters are welfare too. But Ron Paul shouldn’t worry too much. Considering he’s only running for President to get his son, Rand, a job in Romney’s cabinet – Paul likely won’t be considered a “major candidate” anyway.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, March 21st, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

   This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


Newt’s Been Sating Himself on Bull-Puckey

If you’ve been watching political TV of late, you’ve seen way too much of Mr. Gingrich huffing and puffing that President Obama has the absolute worst record of ANY President on foreign policy and national security.    Well Mr. Gingrich, you’re not only wrong, you’re lying through your teeth (or is it your dentures) … whatever!

It never ceases to amaze me how RepubliBans (I’ve changed their name to a more appropriate spelling, since they always want to BAN something) can accuse President Obama of making America less safe, when his foreign policy achievements include taking out multiple terrorist leaders using a strategy of small teams of America’s elite military forces.  So the next time on of your Tea Party acquaintances tries repeating a claim such as Mr. Gingrich’s, here’s a short list to remind everyone of just how seriously President Obama takes the national security of the United States:

  1. 2012/01:  Abdullah Khorsani … Al-Qaeda senior external operations planner  … KILLED
  2. 2011/09:  Anwar al-Awlaki …Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader  … KILLED by US Hellfire missles
  3. 2011/09:  Abu Hafs al-Shahri … Al-Qaeda’s chief of Pakistan operations  … KILLED by Predator strike in Pakistan
  4. <2011/09:  Yunis al-Mauritani … AQ external operations commander … ARRESTED  in Pakistan
  5. 2011/09:  Ali Saleh Farhan … AQAP senior operative  … KILLED
  6. 2011/08:  Atiyah ‘Abd al-Rahman … Al-Qaeda deputy leader … KILLED by Predator strike in Pakistan
  7. 2011/06:  Ilyas Kashmiri … Al-Quaeda commander  … KILLED by Predator strike in Pakistan
  8. 2011/06:  Ammar al-Wa’ili … AQAP senior operative  … KILLED in an air strike on a cell in Yemen
  9. 2011/06:  Qassem al-Rimi … Al-Qaeda senior military commander  … KILLED in an air strike on a cell in Yemen
  10. 2011/06:  Ayedh al-Shabwani  … Al-Qaeda operative in Yemen … KILLED in an air strike on a cell in Yemen
  11. 2011/06:  Saleh al-Tais … Al-Qaeda operative in Yemen  … KILLED in an air strike on a cell in Yemen
  12. 2011/06:  Abu Ali al-Harithi … AQAP senior operative  … KILLED by a U.S. air strike
  13. 2011/06:  Harun Fazul … Al-Qa’ida in East Africa (AQEA) senior leader  … KILLED in Somalia
  14. 2011/05:  Osama bin Laden … Al-Qaeda Mastermind  … KILLED in Pakistan during a raid to capture him
  15. 2010/06:  Hamza al-Jawfi … Al-Qaeda commander  … KILLED in Pakistan
  16. 2010/05:  Sheik Saeed al-Masri … Al-Qaeda’s number three commander  … KILLED in Pakistan
  17. 2010/04:  Abu Ayyub al-Masri … Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader  … KILLED in Iraq
  18. 2010/04:  Abu Omar al-Baghdadi … Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader  … KILLED in Iraq
  19. 2010/03:  Hussein al-Yemeni … AQ  operative  … KILLED in Pakistan
  20. 2010/02:  Abdul Ghani Beradar …  Taliban deputy and military commander  … CAPTURED in Pakistan
  21. 2010/02:  Muhammad Haqqani … Haqqani network commander  … KILLED in Pakistan
  22. 2010/02:  Qari Zafar … Lashkar-e Jhangvi leader  … KILLED in Pakistan
  23. 2009/12:  Abdallah Sa’id … Al-Qaeda operational commander  … KILLED in Pakistan
  24. 2009/12:  Saleh al-Somal … Al-Qaeda operational commander … KILLED in Pakistan
  25. 2009/o9:  Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan … AQEA planner  … KILLED in Somalia
  26. 2009/o9:  Noordin Muhammad Top … Jemayah Islamiya operational planner  … KILLED in Indonesia
  27. 2009/o8:  Baitullah Mahsud … Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader  … KILLED in Pakistan

Oh … and let’s not forget about the ability to build a coalition to go after Moammar Kadafi. And let’s not forget the multiple Somali pirates and multiple Somali hostage takers killed or captured as well.  But if you’re still confused about which man would keep America safer, I think the following quote will make it clear.

“This is one of the great tragedies of the Bush administration. The more successful they’ve been at intercepting and stopping bad guys, the less proof there is that we’re in danger … It’s almost like they should, every once in a while, have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us.”  — Newt Gingrich, at a book talk in Huntington, NY, April 2008, saying that republicans should allow terrorist attacks on American soil just to remind us of the dangers in the world.

Now, what exactly was it that Candidate Obama said before becoming President … that he would track down and take out Al-Qaeda’s leadership and that if Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan and the Pakistani’s wouldn’t take action … he would.  HE did!

“And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act, and we will take them out.”  — Candidate Obama during the October 2008 Debate

Sorry Newt, but America is a much safer place, thanks to President Obama, his administration and our military.

Which Special Interest Group Will NV’s GOP Be Voting For?

It looks like Mitt Romney is back on top in the Republican primary race. But whether voters in the sunshine state realize it or not – they aren’t choosing candidates. They aren’t choosing Mitt Romney – or Newt Gingrich – or Rick Santorum. They aren’t even choosing people. Tonight – voters in Florida – just like they did in South Carolina – in New Hampshire – and Iowa are – choosing between special interest groups. Not candidates – but special interest groups. This is what Citizens United has done to our democracy – to our elections. We no longer have candidates running for office – we have INTEREST GROUPS promoting the candidates they own running for office. Interest groups like Wall Street – like Big Oil – like for-profit health insurers that all have the power to buy our elections now thanks to the Supreme Court. So given that – who REALLY won Florida tonight? Let’s look at the numbers …

We need election reform that takes the money out of politics and essentially nullifies the Citizens United ruling by the “conservative majority” on the Supreme Corporate.

Under the Reading Lamp — 1/30/2012

Jim Hightower | Buying Our Future
Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “Already, four of the top GOP presidential contenders have dropped out. Michele Bachmann went first, because she was too wacky, followed by Jon Huntsman, because he was too sane. Herman Cain gave up because he was too exposed, and Rick Perry because he was too dim-witted. But the greatest surprise is the sudden surge of the Adelson campaign. Little-known until now, Adelson was the big winner in South Carolina, has made his mark in Florida, and looks to have the political kick needed to go the distance.”

Plan for Popular Presidential Vote Quietly Advances
Matthew Cardinale, News Report: Unlike many of the younger democracies around the world, the United States still does not elect its president by popular vote. Indeed, a majority of U.S. citizens elected Al Gore to be president in 2000, but because the U.S. elects its presidents by way of a convoluted system called the electoral college, George W. Bush was declared the winner that year instead.

Robert Reich | Why No Responsible Democrat Should Want Newt Gingrich to Get the GOP Nomination
Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Independents, who will be key to the general election, are especially alarmed by Gingrich. As they should be. It’s not just Newt’s weirdness. It’s also the stunning hypocrisy. His personal life makes a mockery of his moralistic bromides. He condemns Washington insiders but had a forty-year Washington career that ended with ethic violations. He fulminates against finance yet drew fat checks from Freddie Mac. He poses as a populist but has had a $500,000 revolving charge at Tiffany’s.”

ALEC’s Latest Actions
Ben Adler, Op-Ed: “These include bills that are plainly counter-productive, such as the ‘Eliminating Support Services for Newborn Children’ Act. According to Granite Progress ‘This legislation would eliminate support services for newborn children whose parents are utilizing TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).’ How that will break the cycle of the poverty or give the disadvantaged children of poor people a more fair shot at becoming productive citizens is unclear.”

Foster Care, Uncertain Futures Loom for Thousands of Immigrant Children
Marjorie Valbrun, News Report: More than 5,000 children of immigrants are languishing in state foster care nationwide because their parents were living in the United States illegally and were detained or deported by federal immigration authorities. These children can spend years in foster homes, and some are put up for adoption after termination of their parents’ custody rights. With neither state nor federal officials addressing the problem, thousands more are poised to enter the child welfare system every year.

Dream Activists Heckle Romney in Miami
Amanda Peterson Beadle, Video Feature: Three immigration activists interruptedMitt Romney’s stump speech in Miami last week, shouting, “Why are you trying to separate our families?” and “What about equality?” Romney ignored the three hecklers, who said they were part of the DREAM Act movement. This is not the first time Romney has been targeted by students because of his promise to veto the DREAM Act or for his extreme immigration views — the harshest among the GOP presidential field. “We are here for a pro-family agenda. Pro families that are undocumented, pro families that have parents who are same-sex couples,” one activist said. “Romney has a platform that is anti-family.”

Future of U.S. Manufacturing Begins With Education
George Koo, News Analysis: “Advanced manufacturing depends on staffing the factory floor from the production line to the line supervisors with people possessing technical skills. The training programs Obama talked about might serve as temporary Band-Aids that might keep certain production from leaving in the short term. But to maintain a world leadership position, the US will need far more technicians, engineers and scientists than the country is producing.”

Wisconsin Recall Drive More Popular Than GOP Presidential Candidates – Combined
John Nichols, Op-Ed: “America is almost four weeks into the voting stage of the Republican presidential race. The candidates are debating. The media is covering the competition 24/7, and in such minute detail that Rick Perry’s quitting of the contest was treated as news. And Republicans in three states have caucused and voted in numbers that party leaders, pundits and the talk-radio amen corner tell us are significant. Yet at the same time, those same party leaders, pundits and radio talkers continue to dismiss the movement to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a false construct with little real hope of prevailing.”

A Tale of Two Cities: Beijing and Detroit
Helena Norberg-Hodge, Op-Ed: “Around the world, two opposing forces are contending to define our future. On one side are those working for a new economy—one that is more equitable, decentralized, and attuned to the needs of people and nature. On the other are the forces behind corporate globalization and its consolidation of political and economic power. While thousands of people have braved the winter cold and pepper spray to alert the world to the plight of the 99%, our governments are still forging ahead with destructive deregulatory treaties.”

Shedding Light on the Shadow Banking System
Ellen Brown, Op-Ed: “The scandal involves employees signing names not their own, under titles they did not really have, attesting to the veracity of documents they had not really reviewed. Investigation reveals that it did not just happen occasionally but was an industry-wide practice, dating back to the late 1990s; and that it may have clouded the titles of millions of homes. If the settlement is agreed to, it will let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would land the rest of us in jail – fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion.”

Analysis: Buffett Rule Will Raise $50 Billion Per Year, Affect Just 0.08 Percent of Taxpayers
Pat Garofalo, News Analysis: When President Obama announced his latest vision for the so called “Buffett rule” — a 30 percent minimum tax on millionaires — during his State of the Union address this week, Republicans were quick to criticize it. For instance, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) derided the proposal as a “political gimmick.” “It’s a smokescreen,” added Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). However, as a new analysis from Citizens for Tax Justice pointed out, the Buffett rule as laid out in the speech could raise up to $50 billion per year to pay down the deficit, while affecting just 0.08 percent of taxpayers.

After the Battle Against SOPA-What’s Next?
Lawrence Lessig, Op-Ed: “January 18, 2012, could prove to be an incredibly important day, and not just for copyright policy or the Internet. On that day, two critically important things happened. First, with its 6-2 decision in Golan v. Holder, the Supreme Court shut the door, finally and firmly, on any opportunity to meaningfully challenge a copyright statute constitutionally.”

Civil Rights Advocates Meet in L.A. to Discuss Voter Suppression Laws
Jose Luis Sierra and Zaineb Mohammed, News Report: Earlier this week, at a press briefing co-hosted by New America Media (NAM) and Common Cause, civil rights lawyers and advocates representing California’s largest ethnic communities spoke of the need to work together to ensure that 2012 elections are open and accessible, in light of a rash of state laws that they say are being deliberately designed to suppress the vote of ethnic minorities and the poor.

Growing Elite Opposition to Military Option Against Iran
Jim Lobe, News Analysis: “Like the imminent prospect of one’s hanging, to paraphrase the 18th century British essayist Dr. (Samuel) Johnson, the suddenly looming possibility of war can concentrate the mind wonderfully. If that aphorism didn’t apply in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq 10 years ago, it appears to be the case now for key sectors of the U.S. foreign-policy elite – notably, liberal hawks who supported the Iraq war – with regard to the sharp rise in tensions between Iran and both the U.S. and Israel earlier this month.”

Mega Manufacturer Caterpillar Locks Out Workers to Force Pay Cuts While Making Record Profits
Pat Garofalo, News Report: While certainly not in the same league with Apple’s abuses, Caterpillar is just the latest company attempting to force workers to accept wage cuts at the same time its hauling in huge profits and paying its CEO millions. AT&T, Navistar, John Deere, and Wellpoint have all pulled the same trick in the last few years, laying off hundreds of workers. Caterpillar’s CEO, John Oberhelman, made $10.5 million in 2010.

US Media Iraq Reporting: See No Evil
Dave Lindorff, Op-Ed: “The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place. On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad.”

GOP Candidates Dishing Up Hatred and Bigotry in Iowa

Every major Republican presidential candidate has now promised to enshrine hatred in the U.S. Constitution with a permanent ban on marriage equality.  With the Iowa Caucuses just six days away, their promises present a very real threat to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and our families.

  • Newt Gingrich, though he has an openly gay sister, recently called marriage equality a “temporary aberration.”  Gingrich has signed NOM’s anti-gay marriage pledge supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  He’s gone so far as to tell same-sex marriage advocates to go “vote for Obama.” Further, he has  formally stated he would reinstate the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy if elected president.
  • Rick Perry has signed NOM’s anti-gay marriage pledge supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  He’s launched a TV ad blitz tearing into lesbians and gays serving openly in the armed forces.  Plus, he’s called President Obama’s bold decision to promote LGBT human rights abroad a “silly idea.” At a speech in Colorado: “We have amendments to our constitution abolishing slavery, giving women the right to vote, etc. Wouldn’t protecting traditional marriage qualify?”
  • Michele Bachmann (and her husband) believe all you need to do is pray the gay away.  Bachmann has signed NOM’s anti-gay marriage pledge supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.She recently proclaimed – with pride – that as president, she would do nothing more to protect LGBT people from bullying and discrimination. She even had the gall to assert that gays and lesbians already have the right to marry, as long as it’s to someone of the opposite sex.  Recently, when asked a question about gay marriage, this was her response: “”I’m not involved in light, frivolous matters,” she said. “I’m not involved in fringe or side issues. I’m involved in serious issues.” So are we now to believe that being gay is a frivolous matter?
  • Mitt Romney has signed NOM’s anti-gay marriage pledge supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Currently, he is going door to door in Iowa to trumpet his “pro-marriage” (between only a man and a woman) credentials to conservative voters.
  • Rick Santorum has signed NOM’s anti-gay marriage pledge supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  He has proclaimed that being gay is a personal choice.  He has also criticized fellow Republicans for hesitating to back his efforts to ban same-sex marriage.  In response to a question asked by a gay soldier regarding DADT, Santorum had this to say: “We executed a policy that I think was detrimental to everyone, including them, in my opinion because sex and sexual preference should not be an issue in the military, period. It should not be something that is demonstrated in any shape or form in the military. And it shows how much our culture has changed that this is even a subject to be debated within the military.”  Santorum, who’s never served in the military, never bothered to thank the soldier (Stephen Hill) for his service.
  • Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum, as they have all pledged to form a “commission on religious liberty” to investigate the LGBT community (since NOM’s  history of extreme views against the granting of any rights for LGBT individuals) if elected President.”  Apparently these three candidates have learned nothing from history, specifically the McCarthyism of the 1950s or the Nazism of the 1940s.

Here is the full text of NOM’s (National Organization for Marriage) pledge, which has been signed by Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich:

I, _______, pledge to the American people that if elected President, I will:

One, support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification.

Two, nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and to applying the original meaning of the Constitution, appoint an attorney general similarly committed, and thus reject the idea our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution.

Three, defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act vigorously in court.

Four, establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate and document reports of American who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if need.

Five, advance legislation to return to the people of the District of Columbia their right to vote on marriage.

Thus far, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman have not signed NOM’s pledge.

America is becoming more pro-equality by the minute, and we’re poised to secure key victories in 2012 – but the right wing has reacted with a panicked ferocity that has found its voice at the very highest levels.  As this campaign season progresses, we need you  to call out this kind of right-wing bigotry and to alert your friends and neighbors about anti-LGBT lies.  We need to be there, calling out every single offensive statement from a would-be president, all the while fighting for marriage equality and basic protections in the states.

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