On the News With Thom Hartmann: Billionaires Not Paying Their Fair Share in Taxes, and More

In today's On the News segment: The Republican primary race for the White House hits Florida, billionaires not paying their fair share in taxes, UN warns of rapid population growth, French President Nicholas Sarkozy requiring banksters to pay their fair share for the damage they caused to the economy, and more.

You need to know this. Today – the Republican primary race for the White House hits Florida. Polls indicate that Mitt Romney is headed for a victory in the sunshine state – but are voters this year really choosing candidates – or special interest groups? Research shows that election spending by outside groups is up 1,600% this year in the Republican primary compared to 2008 – and about half of all the political ads on the air are paid for by Super PACs – those corporate front groups that came into existence thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Most of the 13,000 television ads running in Florida on behalf of Mitt Romney are not paid for by the Romney campaign at all – but instead by pro-Romney Super PACs. Because of Citizens United – we no longer have candidates running for office, we have INTEREST GROUPS promoting the candidates they like running for office. Interest groups like Wall Street – big oil – and the for-profit health insurance industry that now have free reign to buy our elections this way. So even though Mitt Romney will likely win Florida tonight by double-digits – the real winner will be Wall Street, which has already handed $3.6 million to the Romney camp.

More and more working Americans realize they’re being screwed over by millionaires and billionaire not paying their fair share in taxes. A new CBS/New York Times poll shows that a majority of Americans favor getting rid of the capitalist gains tax – and treating investment income that people like Mitt Romney and Paris Hilton make while they sit on their butts at the pool – the same as regular income that average Americans earn putting in long hours at the office or factory. Currently – investment income – known as capital gains – is only taxed at 15% – thus allowing Warren Buffett to pay a lower tax rate than his secretary – and Mitt Romney to pay far fewer taxes than most middle class Americans. But that might all change soon. Led by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – Democrats in the Senate are pushing for a vote on what President Obama has called the “Buffett Rule” – requiring anyone who makes more than a million bucks to pay a minimum of 30% in taxes regardless of where their income comes from. Senator Whitehouse is calling the legislation the “Paying a Fair Share Act.” Of course – such legislation would also have to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives – where the oligarchs and their multi-millionaire lobbyists like Grover Norquist have compared any sort of tax increases on the rich to treason and high crimes.

In the best of the rest of the news…

It’s the population, stupid! The United Nations is warning that rapid population growth, which will likely see the number of humans living on the planet explode to 9 billion by 2040 – will condemn billions more to a life of poverty. As the U.N. cautions in a new report – a surging population, “runs the risk of condemning up to 3 billion members of our human family to a life of endemic poverty.” By 2030 – the U.N. estimates the world will need to produce 50% more food, 45% more energy and 30% more water to sustain more people on the planet. But, with new research showing that global demand for oil will outstrip oil supplies in the next few years – these targets cannot be met. We should have been preparing for a world without oil back when President Carter told us to – and we need to educate and empower more women worldwide – which is the most effective way to curb population growth.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy is requiring his nation’s banksters to pay their fair share for the damage they caused to the economy. He intends to introduce a financial transaction tax – also known as a “Robin Hood tax” – on the banks. The proposal is a one-tenth of one percent tax on all stock transactions. As Sarkozy said, “What we want to do is create a shockwave and set an example that there is absolutely no reason why those who helped bring about the crisis shouldn’t pay to restore the finances.” Here in the United States though – the banksters continue to skate by without paying one dime for the damage they caused – even after getting trillions in bailout money, courtesy of we the people. According to estimates – a Robin Hood tax in America could raise tens of billions of dollars per year to help keep our social safety net intact, rebuild our infrastructure, and pay down our debt. So the question is – what the heck are we waiting for?! Tax the banks!

Just when Newt Gingrich thought things couldn’t get worse – it turns out his campaign is being investigated for fraud down in Virginia. Newt failed to get his name on the Virginia primary ballot when it was discovered that a campaign staffer illegally forged more than 1,500 names on a ballot petition – a clear case of election fraud. Brad Friedman over at BradBlog has received confirmation from two different sate agencies that the Virginia Attorney General’s office is now investigating the matter. So while Republicans crack down on the rights of voters across America by hyping up fear of individual “voter fraud” – which virtually doesn’t exist at all – one of their top Republican presidential candidates of committing widespread “election fraud” – which Republicans do a LOT.

And finally…President Obama is catching flak for ignoring questions about marijuana at a YouTube event yesterday. As part of the “Your Interview with the President” event – Americans could submit questions online. And despite answering several of the most popular questions submitted – the President ignored THE most popular question – which dealt with the legalization of marijuana. Recent threats toward medical marijuana dispensaries around the nation by the President’s Justice Department have worried voters who thought the President would advance the cause of medicinal marijuana rather than take it backward. For the first time in our nation’s history – more Americans support legalization of marijuana than oppose it. So it’s time for the President to listen to the American people and end Richard Nixon’s stupid and expensive war on drugs.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, January 31st, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.