In today's On the News segment: Wall Street has plenty of friends on the new Super Congress, unions have won the upper hand against Governor Kasich in Ohio, Elizabeth Warren expected to announce her senate candidacy next month, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The Republicans lost a friend in the pope. Speaking in Spain yesterday – Pope Benedict called for major reforms to the world economy saying, “The economy cannot be measured only by maximization of profit but rather according to the common good.” His comments struck right to the core of what Republicans are trying to do here in America with their war against government regulations saying a market, “cannot function as a self regulated economy.” And back in 2009 – the pope expressed his support labor unions, wealth redistribution to help the poor, a stronger United Nations, and protection of the environment. With that kind of message – I'm sure sometime today – Fox so-called News will call the pope a socialist.
In a few weeks – the Gang of 12 “Super Congress” will meet to figure out a way to cut $1.2 trillion out of the deficit. So to figure out who's going to win and who's going to lose in a potential deal – we should follow the money – and in that case it appears Wall Street will once again make out like bandits. Banksters have given more than $11 million in campaign contributions to members of the Gang of 12 – so we might as well take closing the capital gains loophole off the table. To make matters worse – the organizations that's contributed the most to the Gang of 12 is the right-wing Club for Growth – a notorious anti-tax organization – headed up by Tea Party Senator Pat Toomey who someone find found a seat in the Gang of 12. So weeks before the Gang even meets – the deck is already stacked against the middle class. Let's hope these lawmakers look at the polls showing overwhelming majorities supporting tax increases on the rich and opposing cuts to entitlements programs – and not the billionaires who are giving them money.
In the best of the rest of the news…
The tables have turned in Ohio. A few months after passing a radical anti-union law that strips collective bargaining from public employees – Republican Governor John Kasich is on his knees begging those same labor unions to compromise with him now that his anti-union law looks to be headed for repeal. In November – Ohio voters will have an opportunity to vote for a referendum that repeals Ohio Senate bill 5 – and restores full collective bargaining rights to public workers. The referendum garnered more than 1.3 million signatures to get on the ballot. Seeing the writing on the wall – Governor Kasich is asking for labor union to compromise in changing the law – rather than face – what he referred to as “bitter political warfare” over the law in November. The labor unions responded with a thanks but no thanks – we'll leave it up to the voters to decide. I guess Kasich now has to turn to his billionaire buddies to launch a massive ad campaign in support of SB 5 – those same guys who stole democracy in Wisconsin last week – keeping Republicans in charge of the state Senate.
Vacation-gate is heating up – as Republican presidential candidates – with the help of Fox so-called News – bash President Obama's Martha's Vineyard vacation. That's despite the fact that at this point in his presidency – Obama has taken far fewer vacations – just 70 days so far – than George W. Bush – who took 225 days of vacation at this point. Bush also took the longest Presidential vacation EVER in the weeks leading up to 9/11. But the Republican outrage over President Obama's vacation hides a bigger point – that the Center for American Progress latched on to – and that's that America is the only developed nation in the world that doesn't require its workers to have paid vacation days. In France – workers get 30 days of paid vacation. Finland – Norway – Sweden – Denmark – and Germany all get around 25 paid vacation days. Canada and Japan get 10 days – but here in the United States – we get zero – not one guaranteed paid vacation day. So while Republicans rail against the President's vacation – and are curiously silent about Congress' vacation – we the people should be demanding our own vacations. That is unless we want our nation to be on par with Malaysia when it comes to workers' rights.
While Republicans in states like Arizona wage war against illegal immigrants – President Obama and the Democrats are taking a more reasonable and compassionate approach. The White House unveiled more lenient rules to consider hundreds of thousands of deportation cases around the nation – angering Republicans who just want to deport EVERYBODY. The Department of Homeland Security will now review each case – focusing solely on violent criminals to be deported – and letting others who are not considered a threat off the hook to stay in American and apply for a work permit. Let's hope the Republican demonization of immigration yields consequences at the polls in 2012.
She's one step closer to a senate run. Middle class hero Elizabeth Warren officially set up an exploratory committee and website yesterday to start the ball rolling on a challenge against the current Senator from Massachusetts – Republican Scott Brown. So far – the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has raised over 100,000 for her campaign – and Warren is expected to announce a decision sometime after Labor Day. America needs her in the Senate to defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that she created to help working people – that is now under assault by Republicans.
It's official – the corporate media really is ignoring Ron Paul. According to a new report by the Pew Research Center – monkey-hair Donald Trump received more than 3 times as much media coverage for his fake Presidential run this year than Ron Paul has received for his actual presidential run. That's even though Paul arguably won both Republican debates and came in second in the Iowa straw poll – and all Donald Trump does is host a reality TV show. But I guess the hair alone accounts for much of the media attention.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, August 19th, 2011. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.