Thom Hartmann here – on the news.
You need to know this. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are home for the holidays – and Republicans are licking their wounds after caving to Democrats in the payroll tax cut fight. Meanwhile – President Obama is enjoying a boost in his favorability ratings. According to Gallup – for the first time since July – President Obama’s favorability rating outweigh his unfavorability ratings. The President’s approval rating spiked 5 points between December 21st and December 23rd – right in the middle of the tax cut fight. What this proves is that the American people like to see a President willing to fight for their best interests. Let’s hope the White House realizes this – and is ready to fight even harder to make sure millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes when this debate comes back around in 2 months.
The unemployed are screwed in Michigan. Currently – there are 400,000 unemployed Americans in Michigan – and Republican Governor Rick Snyder is cutting them off from their benefits. In a series of new laws just passed to end the year – Snyder and his Republican legislature slashed unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks – and also forced the unemployed into low-wage jobs that leaves the person with no time to find a better job. Meanwhile – with one-and-a-half million Michiganders living in poverty – Snyder is giving corporations a massive tax cut – a $1.7 billion tax cut to be exact. In fact – Snyder has dished out $30 in corporate tax cuts for every one dollar he’s slashed in benefits to help poor people. Rick Snyder is definitely THE the reverse Robin Hood Governor of the year. No wonder his favorability rating in the state is hovering around 30%.
In the best of the rest of the news…
While Louise and I said “No” to the Chertoff Porno X-Ray Scanners this past weekend – and so were punished by waiting and getting groped – the TSA’s “security theater” has hit the road. TSA Security teams are now roaming the country setting up shop at other transportation depots besides airports. Over 9,300 unannounced checkpoints were set up this year at places like train stations, subways, ferries, and other mass transit hubs – costing taxpayers 110 million bucks. While they left the Chertoff x-ray porno scanners back at the airports – the TSA teams do arm themselves with radiation detectors and dogs. There’s no proof that the random checkpoints are working to prevent any sort of terrorist attack – but they are doing one heckuva job trampling on the rights of Americans to be presumed innocent for just wanting to get on a bus, train, or plane.
The rich are getting richer…on Capitol Hill that is. According to a new report from the Washington Post – the wealth inequality between Americans – and the politicians elected to represent them – has grown enormously over the last few decades. Between 1984 and 2009 – median wealth of members of the House of Representatives has more than doubled – while the median wealth of the average American has dropped. Nearly half of all Members of Congress today are millionaires – collecting many of the same perks – like a lower tax rate on capitalist gains – that their millionaire and billionaire campaign donors also get. It looks like one of Thomas Jefferson’s greatest fears – a ruling aristocracy in America – has come true.
The United States is falling behind. China just launched a high-speed test train – capable of traveling 500 kilometers an hour. Currently – China has nearly 10,000 miles of high-speed rail laid down – making it home to the world’s largest high-speed rail network. The United States, on the other hand, has zero miles of high speed rail – while Republican Governors around the country like Rick Scott in Florida and John Kasich in Ohio turn down federal funding to put Americans back to work in their states building high-speed rail projects. Ever since Ronald Reagan began to “starve the beast” – our nation hasn’t invested nearly as much as it needs to compete in the global economy.
Big oil polluters aren’t getting any slack in Brazil. After an oil spill off the coast of Rio last month spewed 3,000 barrels of crude into the ocean – Brazilian police are trying to bring charges against employees of the Chevron oil corporation and drilling company Transocean – the same company partly responsible for the BP Gulf oil spill last year. Last week – federal police submitted a report recommending that 17 employees of the companies be charged with crimes against the environment. As the lead police investigator said, “I am utterly convinced that the company’s institutional policy is reckless and irresponsible. Therefore, the executives are responsible.” Meanwhile – here in the United States – where millions of oil was spilled and 11 men were murdered – not one executive of BP or Transocean has been charged with a single crime.
More than 9 months after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami triggered the world’s worst nuclear disaster at Fukushima – the first official report on the incident is out. According to an independent panel of investigators – TEPCO – the owners of the plant – were ill prepared to handle a tsunami on the scale seen back in March. The report also found that emergency procedures carried out by TEPCO and the government were flawed – which investigators described as a “major concern.” The government was also bashed in the report for its decision to withhold critical information about which direction radioactive material was spreading shortly after the meltdown. In other words – a lot of mistakes were made – and when it comes to nuclear power – the most dangerous form of energy on the planet – there’s little room for error.
And finally…the FDA has approved a new drug to treat hangovers. The drug – which contains caffeine, aspirin, and a stomach soothing substance – is designed to eliminate a hangover within 15 to 30 minutes. So now Speaker of the House John Boehner REALLY has no excuses when it comes to why the House of Representatives has not yet passed even one single plan to create jobs in America.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, December 27th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.