In today's On the News segment: The deal to let the banksters walk is near completion; fewer young adults have a job in America than ever before; before people converge to Occupy Chicago ahead of joint G8 and NATO summits in May, the law that forbids people from recording police officers needs to be removed; Toyota announced plans to invest $400 million in manufacturing cars in the United States; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The deal to let the banksters walk is near completion. All fifty states have agreed to a nationwide settlement with five of the nation's largest mortgage banks over the egregious robosigning fraud scandal. California and New York have been the main hold-outs in the deal – but last night news broke that they’re on board with the nearly $26 billion settlement that forces the banks to change their foreclosure practices and help struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages to stay in their homes. In exchange – banksters on Wall Street get to walk free after committing one of the biggest frauds in the history of our nation – forcing millions of Americans out of their homes by forging foreclosure documents. And those people who already lost their homes thanks to fraud – this settlement only gives them an average $1,800 each in compensation. And the banksters get to keep their hundreds of billions of dollars in bonuses, and even the robo-signers who did the fraud get to keep their payments. ALL Americans should be outraged by this.
Young people are screwed. Fewer young adults have a job in America than ever before. Only 54% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are employed – that’s the lowest number ever recorded since tracking began more than 60 years ago. There’s now a 15% gap in employment between young people and all working Americans – that’s also the largest gap ever recorded. On top of that – they’re drowning in over one trillion dollars worth of student loan debt. This is quickly becoming a lost generation of Americans – which might explain why there’s an Occupy Wall Street movement out there. The choice is simple: live on the streets or take to the streets.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Before tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of patriots converge to “Occupy Chicago” ahead of joint G8 and NATO summits in May – there needs to be some housekeeping – namely, getting rid of the law that forbids people from recording police officers. According to the Illinois Eavesdropping Act of 1961 – it’s illegal to record a police officer – and those who violate the law could face up to 15 years in prison. Now, one state Representative – Elaine Nekrits – is proposing an amendment to the law to allow for recording of police in public spaces. As we’ve seen during previous occupy demonstrations – being able to record police has been the best defense against ongoing police brutality – from New York to Oakland to the University of California at Davis. The amendment has actually gained the support of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy who argued that videotaping is needed for the protection of both the police and civilians. It’s crucial this law is struck down before May’s demonstration to ensure that the whole world REALLY is watching.
Leave it up to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to let lawmakers profit from insider trading on Wall Street. After the Senate passed the STOCK Act – prohibiting Members of Congress from using privileged information they get from Committee Hearings to purchase stocks – it’s the House’s turn to pass similar legislation. Unfortunately, Eric Cantor is watering down the Senate’s bill – and also broadening it- in what looks like an attempt to attract more “no” votes to the legislation to kill it. One of the most important provisions passed in the Senate, but not included in the House version of the STOCK Act, required political insiders who relay information from Washington to Wall Street to give hedge fund managers a scoop on what to invest in. That provision was stripped out by Cantor. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley – who wrote the provision – blasted House Republicans saying, “It’s astonishing and extremely disappointing that the House would fulfill Wall Street’s wishes by killing this provision.” I don’t know about you – but I’m not too astonished by the House doing what Wall Street’s wants – after all this batch of House Republicans were elected thanks to over 300 million in outside cash – much of it coming from Wall Street. Now – Wall Street is getting a return on their investment in Eric Cantor and his Tea Party gang.
We’re becoming the cheap labor source for the rest of the world. Toyota announced plans to invest $400 million in manufacturing cars in the United States – and guess what state they’re investing in…Indiana. Last week – Indiana became the 23rd right-to-work FOR LESS state in the nation – meaning the state is willing to compete in the global race to the bottom for cheap labor. On average, workers make more than $5,000 less a year in right-to-work FOR LESS states. Of course – any profits from this Toyota manufacturing plant won’t be re-invested in America – but instead will go back to Japan. Thanks to union busting and free trade over the last thirty years – we’ve gone from being a nation with a strong middle class and good high-paying jobs, to a nation of working poor being exploited by foreign manufacturers who know they can pay Americans less than what they pay their own citizens. Hear that giant sucking sound Ross Perot warned us about?
Look up in the sky – it's a bird- it's a plane- no it's just more drones. The recently passed FAA funding bill doesn’t just screw over transportation workers unions – it also calls for looser restrictions on unmanned surveillance drone flights in the United States. As the legislation states – the FAA is required “to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.” These are the same drones that are hunting and killing terrorists in Pakistan. Yet another example of the too powerful military industrial complex in America.
And finally…there was another major step forward in equal rights for gays. On Wednesday – the Washington state House approved gay marriage legislation – one week after the Senate approved similar legislation. Washington governor Christine Gregoire is expected to sign the legislation into law making her state the seventh in the nation to give same-sex couples the same rights as straight couples. That combined with the recent court decision in California striking down Proposition 8’s ban on gay marriage prove that the movement for equal rights in America can’t be stopped. Let’s keep it up and strike down the federal law known as the Defense of Marriage Act next.
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, February 9th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.