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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Millionaires and Billionaires in France ask for a Tax Increase, and More

In today's On the News segment: French government introduced a new debt reduction package that includes a 3 percent income tax increase on people making more than $720

In today's On the News segment: French government introduced a new debt reduction package that includes a 3 percent income tax increase on people making more than $720,000 a year, new Congressional Budget Office report shows unemployment will likely be at or above 8.5 percent through next year's elections, Koch's endangering national security by lobbying against security measures at chemical plants, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Maybe we should take a tip from France. The French government just introduced a new debt reduction package that includes a 3% income tax increase on people making more than $720,000 a year. But no one is screaming about class warfare in France today – that’s because it was the millionaires and billionaires themselves who asked for the tax increase. In an open letter – some of the wealthiest people in France wrote, “We, the presidents and leaders of industry, businessmen and women, bankers and wealthy citizens would like the richest people to have to pay a 'special contribution'.” The letter goes on to say, “When the public finances deficit and the prospects of a worsening state debt threaten the future of France and Europe and when the government is asking everybody for solidarity, it seems necessary for us to contribute.” As in – they realize there’s not much quality of life in being rich while living in a poor country – a sentiment that most billionaires here in America don’t appear to understand. I guess it IS true – not all billionaires are created equal.

A new Congressional Budget Office report brings bad news for President Obama. According to the report – unemployment will likely be at or above 8.5% through next year’s elections. The reason cited for persistent unemployment is “weakness in demand.” As in, not enough people having money in their pockets to spend and stimulate the economy. And Republicans have done one heck of a job keeping it that way – by making sure any programs put forward by Democrats to help the unemployed and get people collecting paychecks again – is shot down. The Republican plan to crash the economy before the 2012 elections is in full swing. Time to go bold with a new jobs package, Mr. President – it’s your last chance.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Are the Koch brothers playing into the hands of terrorists? According to a new Greenpeace report – the Koch’s have spent huge sums of money lobbying against legislation that requires greater security at chemical plants prone to terrorist attacks. Currently – thousands of chemical facilities across America are putting more than 100 million people at risk if terrorists were to target those facilities. Koch industries and its subsidiaries run 57 of those chemical plants putting 4.4 million Americans in harm's way. And while countless environmental, labor, and health organizations are pushing for legislation that requires companies to beef up their security – the Koch’s are quietly trying to defeat those efforts. That’s because they know more money spent on security means less money in profits. Even when millions of lives are at stake – the Koch’s can only think about the money. Where’s the outrage from the right-wing terrorist hawks??

Now we know why Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham dogged President Obama earlier this week on Libya – failing to give our Commander in Chief any credit whatsoever for the toppling of Moammar Gadhafi. It’s because they were on Gadhafi’s side! A State Department cable leaked by Wikileaks shows that back in 2009 – McCain, Graham, and Lieberman went and had a little meeting with Gadhafi – who the men described as “an important ally in the war on terrorism.” At that meeting, McCain promised Gadhafi all sorts of things – like new military equipment and a fleet of C-130 planes. Again – this was just two years ago. As we know – Gadhafi then turned his military equipment against his own people in the 2 years that followed – and was kicked out of power. Yet another reason why we shouldn’t be relying on the insights of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman anymore.

The Department of Justice is on the case in the Murdoch-gate scandal. At a meeting yesterday with 9/1 victims’ families – Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that DOJ is indeed looking into whether or not the phones of 9/11 victims were hacked. No target of the investigation was named – but all signs point to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp – given the events of the hacking scandal across the pond. Holder said the investigation was still in its preliminary stages. Another DOJ official said that if any wrongdoing is found – then the culprits could face up to 5 years in prison. If they find out Fox News was hacking – let’s hope Roger Ailes gets the maximum sentence.

Where’s Paul Ryan? He’s under his desk hiding from constituents. A group of unemployed constituents staged a sit-in outside Paul Ryan’s district office last week upset with the fact that their Congressman isn’t holding any free town-hall meetings during the August recess. Ryan IS holding corporate sponsored town halls that charge people 15 bucks to ask a pre-screened question, however. Well, yesterday – those constituents tried once again to meet with their Congressman – but were again denied entry into the building by police. That’s right – Paul Ryan is now using the police to make sure he doesn’t have to face those same constituents that he’s trying to take Medicare from. Of course – as we learned yesterday when the Huffington Post reported that Ryan has a habit of doing special favors for whoever gives him the most money – maybe all it will take is a hefty campaign check for Ryan to actually speak to the voters. Or – like most old-fashioned grifters – he just doesn’t care.

Crazy Alert! Gadhafi's obsession. While looting ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli – Libyan rebels have made quite the discovery – a photo album “shrine” to former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Reportedly – the photo album was filled with, “page after page of pictures of Condoleeza Rice” who Gadhafi once referred to as his, “darling … woman.” He even had a pet name for her – “Leeza”. Which reminds me, has anyone checked Rice's basement for Gadhafi yet?? While the Condoleeza Rice photo shrine is a bit disturbing – I have a feeling fringe despot Gadhafi has some other skeletons in his closet…literally.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, August 25th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.