In today's On the News segment: Bloomberg backs down and allows Occupy Wall Street protesters to stay; House Republicans unveiled their budget proposals for labor, health, human services and energy; House Democrats also put forward their deficit reduction measures; Huntsman jokes that Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan is a pizza deal; banks may be guilty of collusion; Berlusconi barely hangs on to power; and more.
You need to know this. Bloomberg backs down. A showdown between Occupy Wall Street and the NYPD was averted this morning – when Mayor Bloomberg and the property owners of the public park where demonstrators have been camped out for four weeks now delayed their plans to have the park cleared and cleaned up. On Wednesday – Bloomberg notified demonstrators they had to vacate the premise by 7am this morning – or face arrest. But instead of leaving – demonstrators who feared this was merely a ploy to break up the occupation – spent all of Thursday cleaning the park themselves – then locked arm and arm and surrounded the park this morning daring the city to arrest them. Ultimately – no police action was taken. Once news got out that the park would not be cleared – a handful of demonstrators – armed with brooms – marched to Wall Street vowing to “clean it up.” A handful of arrests were reported during that march. All in all – this is a big victory for the Occupy Wall Street movement – and a real sign of strength to force three-term Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the police to back down.
House Republicans unveiled their budget proposals for labor, health and human services, and energy. And to use today’s terms – it’s custom made to benefit the top 1% over the 99%. Republicans are proposing massive cuts including: $1.3 billion to energy assistance to low income families, $3.6 billion to Pell Grant programs, $2.2 billion for job training programs, and $8.6 billion to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. At the same time – the wealthiest Americans get to continue their free ride. Republicans protect $4.1 billion in taxpayer subsidies to big oil, they protect $13.5 billion in special tax breaks for billionaires who make their money off capital gains like Paris Hilton, they protect $4.6 billion in tax breaks for corporate jet owners, and they protect $28 billion in special tax breaks for millionaire and billionaires heirs. The Republican Party is brining this nation closer and closer to FEUDALISM.
In the best of the rest of the news…
House Democrats put forward what sort of deficit reduction measures they’d like to see come out of the Super Committee Gang of 12 yesterday. Their suggestions include $1.2 trillion in budget cuts – plus letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthy Americans and cutting off expensive taxpayer subsidies to transnational oil corporations. Of course – any sort of tax increase violates the Grover Norquist pledge that nearly every Republican signed on to – so it’s extremely unlikely that any plan that comes out of the Gang of 12 that includes some sort of revenue raisers will draw any support from Republicans. The Gang of 12 has six weeks to find a compromise – or deep spending cuts that neither Party like- will immediately go into effect. Let’s see if Republicans will agree to tax the rich when the Sword of Damocles is hanging over them.
During this week’s Republican debate – Jon Huntsman quipped that he thought front-runner Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan was some sort of a pizza deal. Well – it turns out – it could be worse – it might have been ripped from a video game. As Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel points out– Cain’s plan – which puts in place a 9% income tax, a 9% corporate tax, and a 9% sales tax – is almost identical to the default tax plan in the video game “SimCity” where players try to build and manage a city. The designer of the “SimCity” game noticed the similarity and said, “While we at Maxis and Electronic Arts do not endorse any political candidates or their platforms, it's interesting to see GOP candidate Herman Cain propose a simplified tax system like one we designed for the video game SimCity 4.” Of course – in the video game – more than half of the time the city goes bankrupt and collapses. So if Cain somehow gets elected – looks like life will indeed imitate art.
Are the big banks guilty of collusion? Democratic Senator Peter Welch thinks so – and he’s calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate three of the four biggest banks in the country for violating anti-trust laws with their plans to enact new debit card fees. First it was Bank of America – and now Wells Fargo and JP Morgan have announced plans to begin charging customers for using debit cards. In a letter to the Justice Department, Senator Welch wrote: “We urge you to immediately open an investigation to determine whether banking trade associations and/or individual banks have violated antitrust laws…Specifically, we are concerned that communications between banks and bank associations that may amount to price signaling or collusion have occurred.” There’s a reason why they’re called “banksters.”
Italian Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi is still in power…but just barely. The beleaguered Italian leader survived a no confidence vote today. Had he lost this vote – Berlusconi would have been forced to resign – and the Italian government would have collapsed. But even though Berlusconi can keep his job – the vote was so close that he has basically been rendered ineffective. This was the closest vote yet in a series of no confidence votes that Berlusconi has faced. That means he could be just one more “bunga-bunga” party away from getting kicked out of office.
And finally…”Eyebrow Gate” may be taking off. Some people who watched Tuesday night’s Republican debate questioned whether or not Ron Paul was wearing fake eyebrows – as one of them appeared to be falling off at one point. The Paul Campaign has now responded to the allegations calling them “stupid” and said that Paul was instead suffering from allergies…allergies that I guess make your eyebrows fall off. Of course this scandal will likely fade away when the next debate comes along and Governor Good Hair Rick Perry’s pompadour begins sliding off his head.
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, October 14th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.