4.683 Million Unanswered Questions in Halbig

Appeals will continue, but let’s take the Halbig decision at face value. How much will this decision cost the working poor? The amount varies with income and other variables, but for a 40 year old individual making $30,000 a year, the tax credit was estimated at $1345 (KFF estimate here). Retroactive tax bills under Halbig will be significant and everyone impacted will have trouble paying for health insurance going forward (about 57% of exchange participants were previously uninsured, according to a KFF survey).

How many people will be hurt?

Read more here at “The Incidental Economist” ….

State-by-State Reports: The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

— by Megan Slack, August 01, 2013

America has always been a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation’s history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our workforce vibrant, our businesses on the cutting edge, and helped to build the greatest economic engine in the world. But our nation’s immigration system is broken and has not kept pace with changing times. Today, too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living and working in the shadow economy. Neither is good for the U.S. economy or American  families.

Commonsense immigration reform will strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs. Independent studies affirm that commonsense immigration reform will increase economic growth by adding more high-demand workers to the labor force, increasing capital investment and overall productivity, and leading to greater numbers of entrepreneurs starting companies in the U.S.

Economists, business leaders, and American workers agree –  and it’s why a bipartisan, diverse coalition of stakeholders have come together to urge Congress to act now to fix the broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone —both from unauthorized workers and from those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules. The Senate recently passed a bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform bill would do just that – and it’s time for the House of Representations to join them in taking action to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.

In addition to giving a significant boost to our national economy, commonsense immigration reform will also generate important economic benefits in each state, from increasing workers’ wages and generating new tax revenue to strengthening the local industries that are the backbone of states’ economies. The new state by state reports below detail how just how immigration reform would strengthen the economy and create jobs all regions of our country.

We must take advantage of this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system in a comprehensive way. At stake is a stronger, more dynamic, and faster growing economy that will foster job creation, higher productivity and wages, and entrepreneurship.

STATE REPORTS

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas
California Colorado Connecticut Delaware
Florida Georgia Hawaii  
Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska
Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico
New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas
Utah Vermont Virginia Washington
West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming  

Reprinted from The White House Blog.  For more information:

Reject the Confirmation of Moniz for DOE

Please reject President Obama’s nomination of “fracking” proponent Dr. Ernest Moniz to serve as the next head of the Department of Energy.

“Fracking” is a highly polluting form of oil and gas extraction that requires blasting huge volumes of water mixed with toxic chemicals and sand…

If you think blasting toxic chemicals into the same ground that gives us the food we eat and the water we drink, is dangerous, if you think allowing fracking to destroy our farmland, contaminate our groundwater and endanger our health sounds like a bad idea, you’re part of a growing movement that is determined to ban fracking across the U.S. and move the country toward a sustainable future of clean energy and organic food and farming.

President Obama has nominated ardent “fracking” supporter Dr. Ernest Moniz as the next head of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  Moniz is the director of MIT’s Energy Institute, which boasts such Big Oil financial backers as BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco.

Please sign our petition. Tell the Senate: Reject Moniz!

Fracking is a highly polluting form of oil and gas extraction that requires blasting huge volumes of water, mixed with toxic chemicals and sand, deep into the earth to break up rock formations. There are more than 600,000 fracking wells and waste injection sites littering the United States.

Contaminated crops and farm animals raised for food subsequently serve as possible avenues for exposing humans to these same hazardous chemicals, including arsenic, benzene, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), formaldehyde, lead, toluene, Uranium-238 and Radium-226. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ list of common health problems from exposure to these fracking chemicals includes autism, asthma, cancer, heart disease, kidney failure, infertility, birth defects, allergies, endocrine diseases and immune system disorders.

recent study that involved interviews with animal owners who live near gas drilling operations revealed frequent deaths. Animals that survived exhibited health problems including infertility, birth defects and worsening reproductive health in successive breeding seasons. Some animals developed unusual neurological conditions, anorexia, and liver or kidney disease.

Increasing numbers of farmers on the front lines of the fracking fight have fallen ill, too:

  • Carol French, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer is surrounded by nine gas wells. Two weeks after she noticed her water had changed her daughter developed a fever and diarrhea that turned to blood. She lost ten pounds in seven days.
  • Steve and Jacki Schilke, two North Dakota ranchers, are surrounded by 32 oil and gas wells within three miles of their 160-acre ranch. Jacki blames the wells for the loss of two dogs, five cows and a number of chickens, as well as the decline of her own health. Her symptoms began a few days after the wells were fracked, when a burning feeling in her lungs sent her to the emergency room.
  • Christine Moore, an Ohio horse rescuer, had a well fracked five miles from her house. Within two months her water went bad. An oily film formed across the surface of the water in her horses’ bowls. The water inside her home, pumped from her well and filtered through a softener, began giving her severe stomachaches.

Stories like these are no longer isolated incidences but increasingly common place. President Obama needs to hear from you: Expanding fracking operations won’t serve as a bridge to a cleaner future. Instead, it will sound the death knell for sustainable farming, healthy food, clean water, and a stable climate.

The Morality Brigade

— by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton

Robert ReichWe’re still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America.

In recent weeks Republican state legislators have decided to thwart the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in “Roe v. Wade,” which gave women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Legislators in North Dakota passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks or after a fetal heart beat had been detected, and approved a fall referendum that would ban all abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception. Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned abortions within twelve weeks of conception.

imageThe morality brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they’re born. They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools.

The new House Republican budget gets a big chunk of its savings from programs designed to help poor kids. The budget sequester already in effect takes aim at programs like Head Start, designed to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.  

Meanwhile, the morality brigade continues to battle same-sex marriage.

Despite the Supreme Court’s willingness to consider the constitutionality of California’s ban, no one should assume a majority of the justices will strike it down. The Court could just as easily decide the issue is up to the states, or strike down California’s law while allowing other states to continue their bans.

Conservative moralists don’t want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don’t give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy.

Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that’s essential to both our democracy and economy.

Three years ago, at the behest of a right-wing group called “Citizen’s United,” the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in politics by deciding corporations were “people” under the First Amendment.

A record $12 billion was spent on election campaigns in 2012, affecting all levels of government. Much of it came from billionaires like the Koch brothers and casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson —seeking fewer regulations, lower taxes, and weaker trade unions.

They didn’t entirely succeed but the billionaires established a beachhead for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond.

Yet where is the morality brigade when it comes to these moves to take over our democracy?

Among the worst violators of public morality have been executives and traders on Wall Street.

Last week, JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank, was found to have misled its shareholders and the public about its $6 billion “London Whale” losses in 2012. 

This is the same JPMorgan that’s lead the charge against the Dodd-Frank Act, designed to protect the public from another Wall Street meltdown and taxpayer-funded bailout.

Lobbyists for the giant banks have been systematically taking the teeth out of Dodd-Frank, leaving nothing but the gums.

The so-called “Volcker Rule,” intended to prevent the banks from making risky bets with federally-insured commercial deposits – itself a watered-down version of the old Glass-Steagall Act – still hasn’t seen the light of day.

Last week, Republicans and Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee passed bills to weaken Dodd-Frank – expanding exemptions and allowing banks that do their derivative trading in other countries (i.e., JPMorgan) to avoid the new rules altogether.

Meanwhile, House Republicans voted to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act in its entirety, as part of their budget plan.

And still no major Wall Street executives have been held accountable for the wild betting that led to the near meltdown in 2008. Attorney General Eric Holder says the big banks are too big to prosecute.

Why doesn’t the morality brigade complain about the rampant greed on the Street that’s already brought the economy to its knees, wiping out the savings of millions of Americans and subjecting countless others to joblessness and insecurity — and seems set on doing it again?

What people do in their bedrooms shouldn’t be the public’s business. Women should have rights over their own bodies. Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

But what powerful people do in their boardrooms is the public’s business. Our democracy needs to be protected from the depredations of big money. Our economy needs to be guarded against the excesses of too-big-to-fail banks.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller,Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at http://www.robertreich.org.

State Legislatures Gone Wild—9 Terrible Proposed State Laws

— by ThinkProgress War Room, March 15, 2013

If you think that irresponsible and outright ridiculous bills only come out of Washington, D.C., think again. Ever since the big GOP wave election in 2010, state legislatures across the country have been racing to pass offensive, unconstitutional, and just outright bizarre laws. Other states long controlled by Republicans are also rushing to pass unconstitutional and ridiculous laws just for good measure, it appears.

Here are 9 terrible proposed state laws:

  • NORTH DAKOTA: The state is getting in on the latest anti-abortion fad sweeping the nation: so-called “heartbeat bills” that ban abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. North Dakota is set to pass a law that bans abortions (at its single remaining abortion clinic) after just six weeks. The law, the most stringent in the nation, is clearly unconstitutional.
  • TEXAS: An “avid proponent of tort reform” in the state legislature has proposed a law that will allow people to be served notice of a lawsuit through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
  • OKLAHOMA: The Sooner State is still fighting Obamacare and just this week the Oklahoma House passed an unconstitutional Obamacare “nullification” law.
  • INDIANA: Newly elected Gov. Mike Pence (R) is pushing for a 10 percent cut in the state’s income tax, something which could gut investments in education and infrastructure. Even Republican legislators are wary, but the Koch Brothers front group, Americans for Prosperity is pushing the proposal.
  • MISSISSIPPI: The Magnolia state, which has the highest obesity rate in the nation, passed a so-called “anti-Bloomberg” bill to prevent localities from “enacting rules that require calorie counts to be posted, that cap portion sizes, or that keep toys out of kids’ meals.”
  • SOUTH CAROLINA: The Palmetto State said no to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, which sadly is hardly a novel feat. The South Carolina GOP’s innovation was to explain its motivation for doing so was because the president is black.
  • OHIO: Ohio’s radical anti-union law was overturned by a statewide referendum and its anti-voting law was headed for the same fate until the legislature preemptively repealed it on their own. Now Ohio legislators are trying to make it harder for voters to initiate referenda to overturn the radical laws passed by the GOP-controlled legislature.
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: You might think that the 13th amendment to the Constitution is the one that banned slavery, but some Republican legislators in New Hampshire would like to tell you otherwise. They claim the “original 13th amendment” is one that banned people with titles of nobility from holding office and that it was deleted by some sort of conspiracy. They aren’t taking this lying down and have introduced a bill to restore the “original” version, in order “to end the infiltration of the Bar Association and the judicial branch into the executive and legislative branches of government and the unlawful usurpation of the people’s right.”
  • IOWA: An Iowa Republican wanted to ban no-fault divorces for couples with children, out of fears that easier divorces may make teenage girls “more promiscuous.” Fortunately, legislative leaders shut that whole thing down.

While some of these bills are laughable, it’s not very funny when they actually become law. In Arkansas, for instance, the legislature just overrode the governor’s veto (which, bizarrely, only requires a simple majority in Arkansas) of a measure banning abortion after 12 weeks. This was briefly the nation’s strictest abortion ban until it was outdone by the North Dakota law mentioned above.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You Might’ve Missed


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.