In today's On the News segment: Obama unveils his 2013 budget today, Athens is on fire after latest round of brutal austerity mandates, tens of thousands protested in Europe against multinational agreement on Internet property rights, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. President Obama unveils his vision for America today in the form of a 2013 federal budget. The President calls for $3.8 trillion in spending next year – including new investments in our roads and infrastructure, education, and manufacturing sector. Also included in the budget are a yearlong extension of emergency unemployment benefits, and of the payroll tax cut holiday for 160 million working Americans. On the deficit-reduction side – the President’s budget cuts the deficit by $4 trillion over the next ten years by raising taxes on corporations and the very wealthy – like letting the Bush tax cuts expire for top income earners. It also trims down federal entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid – and cuts the Defense Budget by 5% over the next decade. Of course – the President’s budget with its massive investments in infrastructure, education, and manufacturing by making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share in taxes will be just one vision laid out for the nation. The Republicans will unveil their vision soon, which will likely call for even lower taxes for the super-rich – more investments in dirty oil rather than clean energy – and the destruction of Medicare as we know it. So which road should our nation take? The one that invests in creating a more competitive nation? Or the same one that, thanks to 30 years of Reagan, Bush, and Clintonomics, brought us to where we are today – becoming a rapidly “undeveloping” superpower?
Greece is screwed. Greek lawmakers passed another brutal austerity package today – unfortunately – and so the capital city Athens is on fire. Amid fierce rioting on the streets that’s left dozens of buildings on fire – more than 100 people injured – including 50 police officers – and hundreds arrested or detained – the European technocrats got their bailout and austerity through the Greek Parliament – despite massive opposition by the voters. Over 100,000 people took part in demonstrations in the streets over the weekend. Thus far – two years of austerity has only driven the Greek economy down and thus led to further economic contraction and social unrest. But since it makes global banksters happy – here comes round two.
In the best of the rest of the news…
The Mitt Romney campaign found its footing again over the weekend by winning the Maine Caucuses – though they beat Ron Paul by only 194 votes. But it’s not all good news for Romney – a new national poll by Public Policy Polling shows Rick Santorum with a hefty 15-point lead over Romney around the nation. This is the first time Santorum’s found himself sitting atop a national poll in the race. What does all this mean? The longer Santorum stays on top and Romney looks like a flawed candidate – the greater the likelihood at that millionaires and billionaires within the Republican Party stage a coup in Tampa and hold a brokered convention to get someone like Chris Christie in the race.
Our nation’s deficit problem has a lot to do with rampant corporate tax dodging. Last week – the Congressional Budget Office found that despite corporate profits rebounding to pre-recession levels – corporate tax revenue is at a 40 year low, thanks to increased use of tax loopholes and offshore tax havens. In fact – the United States loses more than $90 billion a year thanks to corporate CEOs like Mitt Romney stashing their profits in tax havens like the Cayman Islands. As the Center for American Progress notes – more money is lost to tax dodging than is spent on four different government departments – including the Department of Homeland Security – the Department of Education – the Department of Housing and Urban Development – and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The government loses more money to tax dodgers than it spends educating our next generation. That's not exactly a recipe for long-term economic successes – time to crack down on rich guys and corporations who dodge taxes.
There’s more proof that the outrage on the Right over President Obama’s new contraception policy is a crock. Turns out a majority of Catholic voters approve of the policy requiring religious institutions to cover contraceptives in their employee health care plans. Despite Republicans calling the policy an all-out attack on Catholicism – only 29% of Catholics polled opposed it. So let’s call last week’s debate what it really was – an attempt by Republicans to distract voters from the real issue – the economy – which is beginning to improve under the watch of President Obama. Now, Republicans are scrambling to revive the culture wars.
The fight for a free and open Internet went global over the weekend – as tens of thousands of people rallied across Europe against the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement known as ACTA. Similar to SOPA and PIPA, which aim to crack down on copyright infringements on the Internet, ACTA is an agreement among several nations around the world including the United States and the 22 members of the European Union to establish a legal framework to protect property rights. The agreement will go into affect after six more nation sign it – something that the weekend’s protests were trying to prevent.
And finally – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is firmly staking out his position on the wrong side of history. Today – the New Jersey state Senate is expected to pass a bill to legalize same-sex marriage – and the New Jersey state House is expected to do the same – following the footsteps of the Washington State Legislature that approved gay marriage last week and Washington became the seventh state in the nation to legally recognize gay marriages. But Governor Chris Christie has vowed to veto the legislation – choosing instead to keep gays and lesbians as second-class citizens in New Jersey. Democrats in the state legislature are trying to muster up enough votes to override Christie’s veto. Let’s hope they succeed – and overcome the bigots. As Martin Luther King famously said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, February 13th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.