Now to one of the big sticking points in Washington these days. Much of the debate over impending tax hikes and budget cuts centers on the tax rate for top earners. President Obama argues the tax rate for income over $250,000 a year should be allowed to go up. Republicans say there should be no change in tax rates. When Democrats talk about raising taxes on the wealthy, Republicans hear it as raising taxes on small businesses and killing jobs.
Well, NPR's S.V. Date has been exploring that argument.
Michigan's House approved legislation on Tuesday that would significantly weaken union powers, as protestors gathered outside. Opponents claim it is politically motivated and hurts the average worker. Supporters say it will help attract new businesses to the state. Thousands of protestors descended on the capitol building as the vote took place.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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Speaker of the House John Boehner took to his chamber's floor today with an update on negotiations over the federal budget. As the clock ticks toward automatic spending cuts and tax hikes, Boehner gave the impression that little has changed.
Every weekday, Clark Porter, a tall man with a sturdy build, walks into the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis to work with tough ex-offenders. On the outside, he wears a suit and tie. But on the inside, he has more in common with the former felons than most.
Back in 1986, a skinny 17-year-old Porter went on trial there as an adult for robbing a post office at gunpoint. His sentence: 35 years.
Last week, the Supreme Court decided to take up two cases that focus on same-sex marriage, but some gay rights advocates worry that now may not be the best time. Rulings to uphold California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act would be a major setback. Even if they're struck down, the rulings could well leave same-sex marriage bans in effect in 30 states. Supporters of gay marriage, given these cases and given this court: is now the right time?
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
CONAN: That was the scene this morning outside the Michigan statehouse in Lansing as activists protested the legislature's work on two bills to rewrite the state's labor laws and make Michigan the 24th state in the country to become a right to work state. Rick Pluta, the managing editor and statehouse bureau chief for Michigan Public Radio Network, joins us now by phone from the statehouse. Nice to have you on the program today.
In the latest issue of The New Yorker, journalist Raffi Khatchadourian writes about a secret chemical weapons testing program run by the U.S. Army during the Cold War.
Throughout the 1950s and '60s, at the now-crumbling Edgewood Arsenal by the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, military doctors tested the effects of nerve gas, LSD and other drugs on 5,000 U.S. soldiers to gauge the effects on their brain and behavior.
Now we'd like to talk about those new unemployment numbers. Last week, we learned that the national unemployment rate has dropped to 7.7 percent. That's the lowest level in four years. But the cheering hasn't started for one group of people, the youngest workers, or would-be workers.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Later in the program, you might think of apprenticeships as something out of the era of blacksmithing and barrel-making, but our next guest says it's time for this type of employment to make a comeback.
Finally, we want to take a few minutes today to remember Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She died in a plane crash in Mexico on Sunday, flying from a concert to a show taping. She was 43 years old, a mother and a grandmother, and a major star on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Here's a bit of a popular song "La Gran Senora," where she tells her man's other woman to back off.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. In a few minutes we'll hear more about singer and reality show star Jenni Rivera. She died in a private plane crash over the weekend. We'll hear about why she was such a big star on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. That's coming up.
But first, among other things, many of her fans admired about her, Jenni Rivera was a mom of five and on this program we check in every week with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy parenting advice.
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. The latest unemployment numbers are out and while things are getting slightly better overall, younger people who want to work are still having a very tough time. We reached out to an economist who says apprenticeships might offer one way to offer more opportunity to the younger trying to get into the world of work. We'll talk more about that in just a few minutes.