In today's On the News Segment: Occupy Wall Street is working as big banks around the nation decide to ditch their plans to impose $5 monthly debit card fees, Occupy Nashville patriots got a boost from the courts yesterday, Republicans are continuing to ignore the jobs crisis, Big Oil is raking in big cash, the one percent can be found in the halls of Congress, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. There’s more evidence that Occupy Wall Street is working, as big banks around the nation decide to ditch their plans to impose $5 monthly debit card fees. Sun Trust and Regions bank both came out on Monday to announce they are ending their debit card fee policy. Also – Wall Street giants JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo announced they won’t be moving ahead with new debit card fee plans. And now Bank of America – which started the outrage over debit card fees – is going back to the drawing board to figure out ways to exempt their customers from paying them. And Members of Congress are paying attention too. Senator Dick Durbin is writing letters to top banks demanding they disclose just how much money they’re making off fees – like debit card fees and overdraft fees. With the Occupy Movement in the streets – there may finally be some accountability on Wall Street.
Occupy Nashville patriots got a boost from the courts yesterday. After a police crackdown and dozens of arrest over the weekend – a federal judge ruled on behalf of the patriots Monday – striking down a new law that forbid Occupy Nashville from setting up camp in a public park. The law that the federal judge struck down was passed last week putting in place a 10pm curfew and requiring patriots to buy insurance on any public space they intended to rally at. The ACLU brought suit against the new law and won. As the ACLU Tennessee legal director said, “The state cannot arbitrarily create restrictive policies just because it does not like how people are using a public space. Today’s decision is the first step in restoring demonstrators’ free speech rights.” Free speech rights are being stripped from patriotic Americans all across the nation – from Denver to Chicago to Oakland. Let’s hope other courts follow suit.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Republicans are continuing to ignore the jobs crisis. There are no votes on the schedule in the House of Representatives to pass any portion of President Obama’s American Jobs Act – or any other legislation to put Americans back to work. Instead – House leadership is demanding a vote to ensure that “In God We Trust” remains the official national motto. Even though nobody is trying to change the national motto – Republicans think it’s vitally important to pass legislation to uphold it today. The bill’s sponsor – Republican Randy Forbes from Virginia defended his legislation saying it, “sends a message that 'In God We Trust' is not only written in the halls of our federal buildings, but it is a bedrock upon which our nation is built.” Putting aside the constitutional violations of such legislation – this bill – just like the anti-abortion legislation passed the week before – and the defunding NPR legislation passed earlier in the year – will not create a single job. Not one job. Republicans have controlled the House since January, so, Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor, where are the jobs?!
Big oil is raking in big cash. Already this year – the big five oil corporations – ExxonMobile, Shell, BP, Conoco Phillips, and Chevron – have made over 100 billion bucks – and are on pace to make $140 billion by year’s end. But those enormous earnings aren’t trickling down to taxpayers – as the price of gas still hovers around $3.50. Not only that – part of all the money they’re making is coming straight from your and my pockets in the form of corporate welfare. Republicans have filibustered and refuse to even consider legislation to cut big oil off from the tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies they currently receive despite being some of the most profitable corporations to ever exist on the planet. From the banksters on Wall Street – to the war profiteers in Virginia – to the oil barons in Texas – the top 1% is doing better than ever.
Speaking of the 1% – there’s another place you can find them – in the Halls of Congress. Last year – the net worth of Members of Congress increased a whopping 25% – bringing their total net worth to over $2 billion. And there’s even a wealth inequality problem in Congress too – as 90% of the newly created wealth went to just the top 50 wealthiest Members of Congress. There are 219 millionaires now in Congress – roughly 40%. And the richest lawmaker is Republican Michael McCaul from Texas who’s worth 294 million bucks. That means former richest man in Congress – and the only former criminal in Congress, Darryl Issa – was knocked out of the top spot. I guess it’s time for Issa to get back to lobbying for more pet projects, like last year's highway near the office building he owns, that will further boost his income.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are calling for an investigation into new right-wing Voter ID laws around the country – laws that could disenfranchise tens of millions of voters in next year’s election. But with Republicans in charge of the Judiciary Committee – there is little chance such an investigation will get off the ground. Instead – Republicans only want to focus on failed solar power companies.
Still need more evidence of global weather weirding?? Thanks to last weekend’s snowy northeaster – more snow was dumped on New York City than has ever been recorded in October. According to the National Weather Service – the weekend’s snowfall shattered records that were on the books since 1869. The winters are getting colder, the summers are getting hotter, the storms are getting bigger, the droughts are getting dryer, and yet Republicans have averaged one vote a day to repeal EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Does anybody else hear Nero's fiddle playing?
Crazy Alert! Breaking and entering and…just being weird. According to surveillance cameras – a man in Indianapolis broke into a children's day care center last week to try on girl’s bathing suits. The man – described as 5-foot-7 with a long, black ponytail – snuck into the daycare center – and in typical “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” fashion began trying on bikinis until he found one that fit him just right. After about ten minutes the man settled on a skimpy pink two-piece. Shortly after – he jumped over the counter and set off the motion detector – then quickly changed back into his street clothes – and fled the scene before cops arrived. Employees at the day care center do not believe anything was stolen – though they wish Goldilocks had taken the used bikinis with him.
And that’s the way is it today – Tuesday, November 1st, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.