In today's On the News segment: Harsh anti-union Bill up for repeal in Ohio, banksters rake in 17 percent of all the taxpayer subsidies, the Occupy movement received a boost yesterday from senior citizens, poll shows that more than half the country thinks Republicans are trying to stall an economic recovery so they can win elections, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. It’s Election Day – and there are several important issues up for vote around the nation. At the top of the list is the fate of SB-5 in Ohio – the law passed by state Republicans to strip public sector workers of their rights to collectively bargain. According to polling – the harsh anti-union law is headed for repeal today – as majority of Ohioans are against the war on labor and think Governor Kasich overstepped his mandate. Meanwhile – up in Maine – voters will have a chance to repeal several new laws passed by Republicans that make it harder to vote. These new laws now require voter IDs – they make it more difficult for people to register – and they shorten early voting. Despite a secret conservative donor who has reportedly dumped a quarter-million dollars into the election to make sure these laws stay on the books – a slim majority of voters in Maine support repeal. So if all goes well – tomorrow – workers in Ohio will be allowed to collectively bargain again – and voters in Maine will be able to vote. Unfortunately, down in Mississippi – voters will likely give personhood rights to fetuses – laying the groundwork for not only prohibiting legal abortion – but also prohibiting birth control and in vitro fertilization. Win some – lose some.
As voters in Ohio hit the polls today to repeal Republican Governor John Kasich’s radical anti-union law known as SB-5 – a new study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics proves that the right-wing assault on public sector workers is completely baseless. According to the study – federal employees make on average 26% less than private sector employees. That’s right – those dreaded government workers who Republicans claim are living high off the hog are actually getting screwed. So Republicans raving about public sector employees isn’t about people in the government getting paid too much and how pay cuts are needed – this is plain and simple about destroying the last unions that exist – government worker's unions – and, in the process, killing off a major supporter of the Democratic Party.
In the best of the rest of the news…
If Republicans such as Sarah Palin really hate crony capitalism and welfare – then they should join the Occupy Wall Street movement. According to a new report by the Citizens for Tax Justice – not only are massive, highly profitable corporations NOT paying their fair share in taxes – but they’re collecting big fact welfare checks too. And no industry is collecting more corporate welfare than WALL STREET. Banksters rake in 17% of all the taxpayer subsidies that the government dishes out. Utilities companies come in second – telecommunications in third – and the oil barons are in fourth places when it comes to collecting taxpayer subsidies. And over the last three years – the single largest recipient of federal subsidies was none other than mega-bank Wells Fargo. So when it comes to the Republican war on the social safety net – let’s start with that social safety net sewn of gold that lets millionaires and billionaires get richer and richer and richer thanks to you and me the taxpayer.
The Occupy movement received a boost yesterday from senior citizens. To send a message to Congress about plans to cut Medicare and Social Security – cuts that will likely come out of the Gang of 12 – hundreds of senior citizen patriots occupied a downtown intersection in Chicago. They were joined by nearby members of Occupy Chicago and other grassroots organizations. Also attending the demonstration were members of Congress including Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Danny Davis. Ultimately – police moved in to break up the demonstration – hauling away 47 people – mostly senior citizens – away in handcuffs. The Occupy Wall Street movement isn’t just about young and old – it’s about what kind of society we want – a “me” society or a “we” society. And support for a “we” society is cross-generational.
The American people are finally catching on to what Republicans are up to. According to three new polls out – from Suffolk University – the Washington Post and ABC News – and Public Policy Polling – more than half the country – including a majority of independents – think Republicans are trying to stall an economic recovery so they can win elections. According to the Washington Post/ABC News polls – more than 50% of respondents agreed with the statement, “President Obama is making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics by blocking his proposals and programs.” With new Census numbers out that show more than 49 millions Americans living poverty – 3 million more than first estimated – it makes the Republican economic sabotage campaign even more stomach-turning. Now it’s up to the President to capitalize on this message on the campaign trail next year – just like Harry Truman did in 1948 and kicked the Republican majority out of the House of Representatives for the next 46 years.
Australia's parliament has passed a historic law to tax carbon emissions, in one of the biggest economic reforms in a decade, giving new life to December's global climate talks in South Africa. It begins with a fixed carbon tax of of around $23 a ton on the top 500 polluters starting in July 2012, then moves to an emissions trading program beginning in July 2015. Australia's finance minister, Penny Wong, told the Senate, “Today marks the beginning of Australia's clean energy future. This is an historic moment, this is an historic reform, a reform that is long overdue.” It's long overdue for the US, too.
Crazy Alert! Find a new eternal resting place. A Spanish cemetery is threatening to evict thousands of people in their supposedly final resting places – claiming that their leases are up and caretakers and relatives need to pay up. For some reason – many Spanish cemeteries no longer allow people to buy gravesites – instead they offer leases up to 49 years – which falls well short of the intended move-out date…eternity. Already – the remains of 420 people have been dug up for failure to pay rent. But the backlash is now underway – occupants of the graveyard have formed their own afterlife political party – they’re calling it, “The Cemetery Rent is Too Damn High” Party. Expect a low voter turnout.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, November 8th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.