On the News With Thom Hartmann: Occupy Wall Street Movement Continues to Grow, and More

In today's On the News segment: Members from several prominent labor unions are expected to take to the streets in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, International Monetary Fund report shows that low level of wealth inequality is greatest factor for prolonged economic growth in a nation, Bruce Bartlett drills a hole in the Republicans’ “regulatory uncertainty” argument, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Today is a big day for the Occupy Wall Street movement – as members from several prominent labor unions are expected to take to the streets in solidarity with demonstrators who’ve been camped out in New York City since mid-September. Unionized transport workers – teachers – and nurses are all expected to be on hand for a march across Manhattan today – and similar demonstrations will be held elsewhere around the nation. The “occupy” movements have now reached the attention of some of the nation’s top politicians and policymakers. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in response to the ongoing protests, “I can’t blame them.” However the top Republican presidential candidate – Mitt Romney – called the movement “dangerous” – saying it’s “class warfare.” Then again – he gets most of his campaign money from Wall Street – so he kind of has to say that. Whether Mitt Romney – the corporate media – and the banksters like it or not – Occupy Wall Street isn’t going away anytime soon. At least not until we see some major reforms to our “for the rich, by the rich” economy.

Speaking of the 99% versus the 1% – a new report out of the International Monetary Fund finds that one of the greatest factors for prolonged economic growth in a nation is a low level of wealth inequality. By reviewing economies around the world – and looking at economic variables such as political institutions, debt, and trade – the study found that by far – it’s wealth inequality that has the greatest effect on sustained economic growth – and that if nations are made 10% more equitable in their wealth distribution – then they could see economic growth sustained for 50% longer. As in – if you spread the wealth around a little better – then you’ll see much better economic growth for the whole nation. Currently – the United States is the most unequal nation in the developed world – and more unequal than nations like the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Pakistan. We have a lot of work to do to fix this imbalance – and it starts with Wall Street.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Go ahead and drill a hole in the Republicans’ “regulatory uncertainty” argument. Congressional Republicans claim that businesses aren’t hiring people because they’re uncertain of the regulations the Obama administration will put on them – hence why it’s necessary to repeal regulations to keep our air, water, and food safe in the name of job creation. But yesterday – that argument suffered a huge blow from none other than one of Ronald Reagan’s top economists – Bruce Bartlett. In a piece for the New York Times – Bartlett wrote: “the number of layoffs nationwide caused by government regulation is minuscule and shows no evidence of getting worse during the Obama administration…regulatory uncertainty is a canard invented by Republicans that allows them to use current economic problems to pursue an agenda supported by the business community year in and year out.” Again – that’s from one of Reagan’s top economic advisors – who would probably be considered a “socialist” nowadays.

In a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday – Ben Bernanke urged lawmakers to hold off on their agenda of deep spending cuts while the economy is still in a weak recovery. Bernanke said spending cuts could have a serious effect on consumer demand – and they could reverse any hopes of an economic recovery. Clearly – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke didn’t get the memo – because that’s exactly what Republicans are hoping for with their spending cuts – another recession to make President Obama look bad in next year’s elections.

If we want some direction on what to do about wars abroad – we should listen to our returning veterans. A new Pew Research Center survey – found that one-third of returning veterans from post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting. A majority of veterans surveyed said the United States needs to focus less on foreign wars – and more on problems here in the United States. Also – about half of the veterans noted that their military deployments strained their relationships with their spouses and children. More than 6,000 US soldiers have dies in our post-9/11 wars that have cost our nation trillions of dollars. This insanity needs to stop – end the wars and bring our men and women back home.

House Republicans say our government is facing a debt and spending crisis – yet at the same time – Speaker of the House John Boehner has no problem with $1.5 million of deficit spending at the taxpayer’s expense to hire a right-wing lawyer to make sure gays in America don’t have access to civil rights. After President Obama announced his White House will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act – a federal law that allows states to not recognized same-sex marriage – Boehner hired his own lawyer to defend the discriminatory – and unconstitutional – law – a lawyer who comes with the hefty price tag of $1.5 million. So when it comes to healthcare programs for women, seniors, and children – Republicans argue we need to cut, cut, cut. But when it comes to discriminating against gays – they write a blank check from Uncle Sam. I guess nothing gets in the way of the Republican culture warriors.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, October 5th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.