On the News With Thom Hartmann: This Winter, the Poor Will Find It More Difficult to Stay Warm, and More

In today's On the News segment: Global markets surge as central banks around the world step up to bail out the euro, more and more poor people won't be able stay warm in America during the winter, a new study shows that military spending actually KILLS jobs, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Global markets surged yesterday on news that Central Banks around the world would step up to bail out the Euro. But underneath the temporary euphoria of the Dow Jones surging over 400-points – there’re very real concerns among investors that this latest move is merely a temporary fix – and that the fundamental problems underlying the European debt crisis are still unresolved. As Burt White – the Chief Investment Officer at LPL Financial said, “It helps to prop up the banks for a while which is going to buy time for Europe to fix the problem…This is basically a Band-Aid.” But as we’ve seen – Europe – and the United States for that matter – seems unable to fix the problems in our markets and banks. That’s because the solutions that may ACTUALLY work – solutions like nationalizing struggling banks – forgiving debt – and putting in place much stricter financial regulations – are all politically unfeasible now that banksters and technocrats have gained disproportionate power in so-called democracies all around the developed world. Until we kick the moneychangers out of the temple of our democracies – this crisis will get worse and worse and eventually bring us all down. Just wait and see.

This winter – the poor are screwed. According to forecasts by the U.S. Energy Information Administration – the price of heating the average home with oil this winter is expected to spike 10% to $2,500 for the whole season. That’s a 45% increase from just two years ago. There are more than 8 million homes in America that rely on oil for heating purposes – and roughly 1-in-4 in the Northeast. Unrest in the Middle East – and rampant speculation on Wall Street are to blame for the oil price spike. At the same time – thanks to Republicans demanding spending cuts – the LiHEAP program – or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – saw it’s budget nearly cut in half this year – meaning more and more poor people won’t be able stay warm in America during the winter. Currently 1-in-5 Americans are economically insecure – meaning they can’t afford to pay for the essential to live. So thanks to Republicans – this winter – 20% of the country will have to make a choice – stay warm at home – or put food on the table. A disgraceful reality for the richest nation on the planet.

In the best of the rest of the news…

As Republicans scramble to undo the automatic cuts to the Defense budget in the wake of a SuperCommittee failure – a new study shows that military spending actually KILLS jobs. The Political Economy Research Institute out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst analyzed the job creation effects on various types of government spending. What they found is – military spending produces lower job numbers than other federal spending on clean energy, healthcare, and education. For example – a billion dollars spent on the military creates roughly 11,200 jobs. But a billion dollars spent on education creates a whopping 26,700 jobs. That means – for every billion dollars our nation diverts from education to defense – we’re also losing upwards of 15,000 jobs. Right now – our war profiteers have become millionaires and billionaires – yet teachers across the nation are under attack for making a middle-class wage. The rise of the military industrial complex today must be causing James Madison and Dwight Eisenhower to roll over in their graves.

Speaking of a military state – the Senate moved one step closer to passing the Defense Authorization bill – which gives dangerous new powers to the President regarding indefinite detention. Despite a White House veto threat – the Senate is expected to pass the legislation today. Call your Senator before it’s too late and tell them not to light the Constitution on fire.

After getting smacked down by federal judge Jed Rakoff earlier this week – the Securities and Exchange Commission is asking Congress for power to penalize the big banks. Judge Rakoff denied a settlement between the SEC and Citigroup on Monday – citing it may be too low – and that the public needs a trial to hear all the facts about just how much fraud and other crimes were committed by the bank. The SEC has now sent a letter to the Senate Banking Committee – asking for permission to raise the maximum penalty on fraudulent banks by 900%. Under the new penalty – big banks could face penalties into the billions of dollars. But as we’ve seen – no matter how high the financial penalty is – these criminal banksters just pay the fines, consider it a cost of business, and either deduct it from their taxes or pass it along to their customers. The best way to punish them is simple: start throwing their CEOs in jail. Or – bring back the corporate death penalty – as it used to exist in America – and break up these banks and sell off their assets.

With a federal crackdown on medicinal marijuana looming – two Governors are pushing back. Governors Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island and Chris Gregoire in Washington are calling on the DEA to reclassify marijuana. Currently – marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin and LSD – drugs that allegedly have no medical benefit whatsoever. But the governors what marijuana to be a Schedule 2 drug along with cocaine and opium – drugs that have been recognized to have a medical purpose. Back in 2009 – the American Medical Association made a similar appeal to the DEA. Maybe we should be listening to governors and doctors more when it comes to our insane war on drugs – and not private prison contractors who lobby for stricter drug laws so they can profit off throwing more and more people in prison.

Mitt Romney emerged from the “Mitt-less Protection Program” earlier this week – giving a softball interview to GOP TV’s Fox so-called News. Turns out though – even softball was too much for Mitt to handle. Romney struggled to answer a number questions – particularly about immigration and abortion. And, according to Fox talking head Brett Baier – Romney complained after the interview – claiming it was “overly aggressive” and that Baier’s questions were “uncalled for.” If Romney can’t handle a simple GOP TV interview – don’t expect him to come out of the Mitt-less Protection Program again anytime soon. And given the field of Republicans he’s up against – he might not have to.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, December 1st, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.