In today's On the News segment: Only 14 percent of workers around the nation feel “very confident” that they will have enough money for comfortable retirement; the right-wing spin machine is putting a dent in President Obama’s poll numbers; Wall Street speculators behind rising food prices; Senate is expected to debate and pass a highway and public transportation spending bill that could create 2.8 million jobs; Dick Cheney canceled his appearance in Canada, citing safety concerns; and more.
You need to know this. Republican voters down South head to the polls today for the Mississippi and Alabama primaries. But voters won’t be choosing between Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich, who are all in a virtual tie with each other – instead, they’ll be choosing between special-interest millionaires and billionaires who have invested in these three guys through their SuperPACs. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision – the amount of outside election spending by millionaires and billionaires at this point has more than doubled this year from the last presidential election in 2008. Already fat-cat SuperPACs have spent nearly $90 million – thanks mostly to individual billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, who is single-handedly bankrolling Newt Gingrich’s campaign, and Foster Friess, who is Rick Santorum’s Daddy Warbucks. And it’s Republicans who are relying most on the outside corporate cash. Of the top 20 SuperPAC donors we know about so far – 17 of them are Republican donors – only 3 are Democrats. 70% of Americans now want to outlaw SuperPACs, which were created by 5 right-wing unelected justices on the Supreme Court. And because the Supreme Court caused this, it's going to take a Constitutional Amendment to fix it. Go to MovetoAmend.org and Free SpeechForPeople.org to get involved.
Those who want to retire with dignity are screwed. According to a new survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute – only 14% of workers around the nation feel “very confident” that they will have enough money in the bank for a comfortable retirement. Two-thirds of the survey respondents cited mounting debt as a main reason why retirement may not be in the cards – since over the last 30 years wages for working people have barely grown, yet the price of practically everything else has – forcing Americans to go deeper and deeper into debt just to make ends meet. One-third of respondents said they now have less than $1,000 in savings. And considering that the Republican House of Representatives voted to end Medicare as we know it last year – and are now talking about giving Social Security to Goldman Sachs – then it’s just a matter of time before the United States is officially “No Country For Old Men.”
In the best of the rest of the news…
The right-wing spin machine is putting a dent in President Obama’s poll numbers. After an RNC memo was sent suggesting Conservative radio & TV talking heads should start hammering the President on rising gas prices – the President’s approval rating has dropped 9 points, from 50% a month ago to just 41% today. But oil experts and economists say there’s very little the President can do in the short-term about rising gas prices. And considering that oil speculation by banksters on Wall Street and talk of war in Iran are really driving up the price – and Republicans in Congress are the ones blocking Wall Street reforms and shouting about Iran – they're the ones to point to for causing rising gas prices.
Speaking of speculators – they’re also behind rising food prices around the planet. Food prices have increased 4.4% in the last year – nearly twice as much as all other consumer goods. And a new study out of the New England Complex Systems Institute argues that Wall Street speculators are the ones driving up the price this year – just like they did in 2008 – when a billion people around the planet were pushed to the brink of starvation, and unrest and food riots swept the globe. The new study forecasts another food bubble to be inflated by 2013 – that could once again create turmoil around the world. From the ongoing debt crisis in Europe – to rising gas prices in the United States – to increasing food costs around the world – Wall Street is destabilizing the entire global economy – and making huge profits by doing it. Just like they did when they crashed the world in 2008.
In Congress – the Senate is expected to debate and pass a highway and public transportation spending bill this week that could create 2.8 million jobs. Unfortunately, similar efforts in the House have stalled out as Republicans hold funding hostage in exchange for the Keystone pipeline. When Reagan came into office back in 1981 during the worse economic recession since the Great Depression – he, and Congress, increased government spending by 12% over the next four years to get America out of that recession. But today – Congress has forced President Obama to CUT government spending – which is why the economic recovery has been slow. Luckily for Reagan – Mitch McConnell wasn't dedicating his every effort to make him a one-term President.
Spain, meet Greece. The bankster-fueled, European debt crisis that’s collapsed Greece now has its sights set on Spain – the Eurozone’s fourth largest economy. European finance ministers are telling Spain that the nation must enact austerity and cut its budget deficit by a half percent this year. Unelected technocrats telling elected representatives what to do and how to manage their countries has become a central theme of the ongoing financial crisis in Europe – and in America in places like Michigan. Spain has the highest unemployment rate in Europe at 23.3% – even higher than Greece’s – and its economy is headed for a terrible recession this year. And with austerity coming down the pike there, those numbers will get even worse – just like we’ve seen in other austerity-ravaged nations like Greece, the U.K., and Italy.
And last but not least…Dick Cheney is afraid of Canada. The admitted war criminal was expected to speak in Canada about American politics next month. He was going to be joined by his daughter Liz Cheney, who’s made a living following in her dad’s footsteps and being a war monger on right-wing media outlets. But the two have now cancelled their appearance – citing security concerns from the last time Cheney visited Canada and was met with massive protests. As the event promoter said, “it was better for their personal safety they stay out of Canada.” Considering that international courts are looking to bring war crimes charges against Cheney – I have a feeling Dick won’t be leaving the safety of the United States ever again.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, March 13th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.