On the News With Thom Hartmann: Congressional Democrats Wish to Put an End to Rampant Oil Speculation

In today's On the News segment: A clear picture may emerge tonight of who the Republican nominee will be, 120 million Americans are in danger of radioactive fallout should a Fukushima-like nuclear disaster occur in America, 68 arrested as they occupied the state capital in California Monday night, Democrats in Congress want to put an end to rampant oil speculation, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Super Tuesday has arrived – and it couldn’t come any sooner for the Republican Party. With 419 delegates in 11 states up for grabs – a clear picture may emerge tonight of who the Republican nominee will be – most likely Mitt Romney – who is expected to take the majority of delegates and easily win 4 primaries – and should pull off a win in the swing state of Ohio, too. Looking at numbers from a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll – Republicans desperately need this primary season to end as soon as possible. Of those polled, 40% say the primary process has created a less favorable view of the Republican Party – and Mitt Romney’s favorable rating stands at just 28% now. Meanwhile in hypothetical contests with the Republican candidates – President Obama is polling above 50%, forecasting a landslide victory. And to top it all off – by a margin of 46% to 41% – Americans want Democrats more than Republicans to control Congress next year. The Republicans were given a chance to govern the nation in 2010 – and they squandered it by appealing to the lowest common denominators within their party – only looking out for misogynists, millionaires, and billionaires – and putting the destruction of Barack Obama ahead of fixing the economy. So even though Super Tuesday is here and the primary season may soon be winding down – it will take a lot of fat-cat corporate cash to rehabilitate the Republican Party’s image heading into the general election.

Americans living near nuclear plants are screwed. According to a new report from the National Resources Defense Council – 120 million Americans are in danger of radioactive fallout should a Fukushima-like nuclear disaster occur in America. Currently – 6 million Americans live within 10 miles of a nuclear plant – and 120 million Americans live within 50 miles of a plant – which is the evacuation zone suggested by the United States at Fukushima. And those Americans are in danger because – according to the NRDC – there are 23 reactors in America built with the same flawed design as the Fukushima reactors. On top of that – nearly all of the 104 operational nuclear reactors in America are over thirty years old and approaching their designed 40-year life span – with several plants even older than that – and 32 plants have been given an a very dangerous OK to operate for 60 years by the NRC. And 90% of all U.S. nuclear plants are operating above the energy capacity they were designed to handle. Not to mention the dozens of other reactors that sit on fault lines or in flood basins. As the NRDC report stated, “There are clear lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster, yet our government allows the risks to remain.”

In the best of the rest of the news…

As many as 68 patriots were arrested as they occupied the state capital in California Monday night – protesting against planned cuts to education. With tuition fees soaring – hundreds of demonstrators descended on the capital building in Sacramento calling for a tax on millionaires to help fund public universities in the state. Over the last five years – tuition at public universities in California has doubled – and – along with it – so, too, has outstanding student debt. For the first time in world history – student debt outweighs credit card debt in America – with students around the nation more than a trillion dollars in the hole. In November – voters in California will have a chance to approve a referendum to raise income taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year and divert that revenue to education budgets. We just learned that in 2010 – 93% of all income gains in America went to just the top 1%. It’s time for that 1% to pay their fair share in taxes to make sure America doesn’t experience a lost generation.

The movement to overturn Citizens United marches on. Today is Vermont Town Meeting Day – a 200-year tradition in which voters across Vermont gather to talk about and vote on issues important to their communities. And this year – the issue at the top of the list is the corporate takeover of our elections. As part of Town Meeting Day – nearly 50 towns across Vermont will vote on a resolution calling on their Congressional delegation to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Two towns have already voted and passed the resolution. As one organizer said, “You start putting these together, I think you have the beginning of the most dynamic political movement in this country.” He’s right – and you need to get involved too – go to MoveToAmend.org.

Democrats in Congress want to put an end to rampant oil speculation. Led By Senator Bernie Sanders – 70 Members of Congress wrote a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission this week – calling on the agency to move forward with new rules on oil speculation that were created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform law. As the letter read, “We have a responsibility to ensure that the price of oil is no longer allowed to be driven up by the same Wall Street speculators who caused the devastating recession that working families are now experiencing.” Some estimates conclude that 70% of the price of recent oil price increases are the result of Wall Street speculation – and have nothing to do with actual supply and demand in the marketplace. Time to end this form of predatory capitalism – and make Wall Street back into a safe and boring banking industry.

Even after last weekend’s non-apology – advertisers of the Rush Limbaugh are fleeing for the exits. Since asking to see sex tapes of a Georgetown Law Student on his radio show last week – Limbaugh has lost 12 advertisers including AOL, Carbonite, and Legal Zoom. He’s also been kicked off the air on two radio stations – one in Hawaii and one in Massachusetts. Media watchdog group MediaMatters – as well as several other organizations – are now calling for a boycott of his Show. Despite a history of making sexist, racist, and downright outrageous remarks and getting away with it – Rush might have finally jumped the shark with this one.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, March 6th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.