On the News With Thom Hartmann: 1.9 Million American Transportation Workers Are Being Held Hostage by Republicans, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Greek situation is still unresolved, 1.9 million American transportation workers are being held hostage by Republicans in the House, the poor are getting poorer, an estimated 50,000 people took to the streets of New York City on Sunday to silently march against the NYPD’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. The Greek situation is still unresolved. The pro-austerity New Democracy party edged out the anti-austerity SYRIZA party in Sunday’s Greek Parliamentary elections. BUT– New Democracy didn’t pick up enough seats to a have a majority in government, and thus must cobble together a coalition government with other parties. But the SYRIZA party – which came in second and is staunchly opposed to more austerity, has rejected calls from New Democracy to form a coalition government. As part of the bailout agreement – Greece must raise more than 15 billion euros by selling off its commons, cutting budgets, and laying off about 150,000 government workers. But in order to form a coalition government – the New Democracy Party may be forced to renegotiate these terms. Meanwhile in France – parliamentary elections gave the Socialists a big victory over the weekend. Now in control of both chambers of Parliament AND the Presidency – French Socialists plan to soften the German-led austerity drive around Europe, raise taxes on wealthy people and corporations, and put more people back to work with stimulus spending. So even though Greece fell just short of striking the first major blow to the technocrat’s European austerity agenda – France succeeded, and for the first time since the global economy went into a meltdown in 2007 – austerity isn’t the only option on the table anymore.

In screwed news…1.9 million American transportation workers are being held hostage by Republicans in the House. At the end of this month – critical funding that keeps Americans on the job rebuilding our highways and infrastructure runs out – threatening to put two million Americans out of work. In a 74-22 vote, the Senate, with support on both sides of the aisle, already passed legislation to keep the funding in place and thus keep those people employed. But House Republicans, reportedly led by Eric Cantor, are refusing to vote on the Senate bill, unless it also includes immediate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. This is not the first time Republicans have held American workers hostage on behalf of their oil baron campaign contributors – they did the same thing back in March. And this latest hostage scenario plays into the Republicans’ larger strategy of sabotaging the economy to hurt President Obama in November. The thought of 1.9 million Americans put out of work may be tragic to most of us – but for the Republicans, it’s an opportunity to worsen the economy and blame Obama for it.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The rich are getting richer – the poor are getting poorer. A new study by the New York Times reveals that some of the wealthiest CEOs in America saw their paychecks grow twice as fast as workers in 2011. The median pay for America’s 200 highest paid CEOs jumped up 5% to $14.5 million. Meanwhile, worker pay rose by just a mere 2.8%. Now – Fortune 500 CEOs make 380 times more than their average workers and have seen their pay increase 127 times faster than their workers since Reagan moved into the White House. Despite all of this – Republicans are pushing bankster Mitt Romney for President – a multimillionaire who’s pledging to give even bigger tax cuts to his rich friends on Wall Street – while shoving austerity down the throats of the rest of us. With billionaires running our elections, America is already looking like a banana republic – but if bankster Romney wins – the transformation will be complete.

An estimated 50,000 people took to the streets of New York City on Sunday to silently march against the NYPD’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy. That policy allows police officers on the streets to randomly stop people and search them with little to no probable cause. Roughly 300 civil rights groups took part in the march arguing that “stop and frisk” unconstitutionally targets blacks and Hispanics. In 2011 alone, more than 685,000 people were stopped on the street by NYPD officers despite no charges being filed. Of those people, 87% were black or Hispanic. According to reports from Alternet’s reporter Kristen Gwynne – the peaceful march turned chaotic when officers split the march in two and tried to kettle in a group of demonstrators. Several people were arrested.

Georgia homeowners are being robbed by their own state legislature. As part of the mortgage fraud settlement earlier this year, struggling homeowners in Georgia got more than $800 million in financial assistance – paid for by the banksters who perpetrated a massive, nationwide foreclosure scandal. But despite one out of every three Georgia homeowners being underwater on their mortgage – Republicans in Georgia are diverting $100 million dollars of that settlement money away from homeowners and into the pockets of crony corporations in the form of massive corporate-welfare tax breaks. Once again – the fat cats get bailed out, while working people and average homeowners get sold out.

And finally…Republicans in Louisiana thought they had it all figured out when they pushed a massive education privatization plan that funnels huge amounts of taxpayer dollars away from public education and toward private, religious education. As Republican Governor Bobby Jindal said about the state taking millions from public schools and giving it instead to private, religious schools, “We are changing the way we deliver education.” But then, Louisiana Republicans’ plans hit a snag – when an Islamic school applied for the voucher program as well – meaning children wouldn’t just have access to Christian schools – but also Muslim ones. Of course – that didn’t sit too well with Louisiana’s lawmakers who threatened to vote against the education privatization plan warning that it could be, “the church of scientology next year.” Trying to avoid a firestorm of hate, the Islamic school withdrew its request to participate in the new voucher program, leaving only Christian and private, for-profit schools in the mix. So now – kids in Louisiana will no longer learn math, science, and history from professional teachers who work for “We, The People.” Instead, they’ll be taught by businessmen and religious fanatics who don’t believe in science and think the history of our planet began 5,000 years ago. Welcome to the new Dark Ages.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, June 18, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.