On the News With Thom Hartmann: A Half-Million Eligible Voters Will Find It Virtually Impossible to Get the Necessary ID to Be Able to Vote in November, and More

In today’s On the News segment: A new study reveals just how damaging Republican-backed voter suppression ID laws will be to hundreds of thousands of Americans, the worst drought in more than fifty years and scorching hot weather are killing agriculture crops and pushing food prices to record highs, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia defended his 2010 Citizens United decision in an interview on Wednesday, and more.

TRANSCRIPT

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. How do you make Republicans in Congress squirm? You force them to choose between raising taxes on rich people or cutting defense spending. That’s the choice Republicans are facing today, as $500 billion will automatically be cut from the Pentagon’s budget at the end of the year as a result of the “sequestration” debt-limit compromise last year. Republicans are now urging Congress to act to reverse the automatic cuts, with some Republicans even borrowing now claiming that the government does indeed create jobs, and that we need government spending, citing reports that show these size cuts to defense spending will kill a million jobs. Of course, those reports are written by defense-industry so-called experts. Actual experts and the CBO are less hysterical, and point out that even with the cuts, the Pentagon’s budget will still be larger than it was in 2006, and today we’re in one less full-blown war than we were back then. Still, defense contractors are desperately trying to take spending cuts off the table, and some – like military giant Pratt & Whitney – are even calling on Republicans to raise taxes to prevent the defense cuts. So now Republicans are stuck between violating their no-tax pledge to multimillionaire lobbyist Grover Norquist and disappointing their war-profiteering campaign contributors. As the old saying goes, when the elephants fight, the mice get trampled. So expect Republicans to try to please both their bases, and push for even deeper spending cuts in unemployment benefits and other social safety net programs that help working people. Time to contact your Members of Congress and tell them to invest in rebuilding the middle class instead of building more unnecessary missiles, tanks, and warplanes.

In screwed news…a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice reveals just how damaging Republican-backed Voter Suppression ID laws will be to hundreds of thousands of Americans. Looking at ten states that have passed restrictive voter ID laws, the Brennan Center found that about a half-million eligible voters will be will find it virtually impossible to get the necessary ID to be able to vote in November, despite claims by Republicans that is very easy to get a voter ID. That half-million is how many people live in a household without a vehicle and more than ten miles away from an ID-issuing office. Most are low-income Americans who live in rural areas without decent public transportation. According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center, one-in-ten eligible voters currently lack the necessary ID to vote, including a quarter of African Americans and 18% of senior citizens – all, of course, people who tend to vote for Democrats. These voter suppression ID laws aren’t about fighting voter fraud, which, other than Romney lying about where he lived in 2010, isn’t a real problem. They are, instead, all about keeping Democratic voters from the polls to rig the November elections in favor of Republicans. Let’s take this as a lesson that it’s time we begin the fight to guarantee a right to vote for ALL Americans.

In the best of the rest of the news…

America likes to think of itself as the richest nation on the planet, and looking strictly at total combined wealth, it is. But that’s only because there are a heck of a lot of billionaires living here. But looking at median wealth, or how much Americans in the middle are making, the United States doesn’t even crack the top ten in the world. According to a new report by Credit Suisse, 15 OECD nations have a higher median wealth than the United States. That includes nations like Australia, Japan, and Israel. It also includes European nations that are in crisis like the Spain, Italy, and Ireland. That’s because over the thirty years since we embraced Reaganomics – the middle class in America has been devastated. We’re not the wealthiest nation on the planet anymore – we just have the most Romney-rich.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack admitted that he gets on his knees every day and prays for rain. That’s because the worst drought in more than fifty years and scorching hot weather are killing agriculture crops and pushing food prices to record highs. Soybeans prices closed at a record high on Wednesday. And corn, which is a staple in the American diet, closed at a near record high price after jumping up 50% over the last year. And with grain prices rising, that means an increase in price across the board from meat to poultry to dairy. Currently, drought conditions are persisting in more than 60% of the lower 49 states. Over the short-term the weather forecast isn’t providing much relief for farmers as more heat and dry conditions are expected. And over the long term, as the planet continues to heat up from man-made climate change, we’re looking at a global food crisis that could unleash instability across the planet.

In an interview Wednesday night with Piers Morgan, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia defended his 2010 Citizens United decision, arguing that Thomas Jefferson would have agreed with the decision. In reality though, Thomas Jefferson was horrified with even the idea of the Supreme Court being able to write news laws as the court did in the Citizens United case. Reacting to the 1803 Marbury V. Madison decision that established Judicial Review, Jefferson declared that the Constitution is now a ball of wax that can be shaped by the Judiciary. And thanks to the Justice Scalia and the other right wingers on the high court – that ball of wax has been shaped into a corporate takeover of the United States.

And finally…Michele Bachmann really did it this time. Yesterday, the Congresswoman from Minnesota who has a penchant for spouting off bizarre conspiracy theories, had to flee a CNN camera crew asking her about controversial remarks she made about Huma Abedin – the deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bachmann alleged that Huma infiltrated the U.S. government on behalf of radical Islamists with the Muslim Brotherhood. Senator John McCain blasted Bachmann, saying that her claims have “no logic, no basis, and no merit.” Clearly, Senator McCain wasn’t paying much attention to Bachmann’s presidential campaign. As her former campaign chief, Ed Rollins, wrote in a recent op-ed – Congresswoman Bachhmann, “has difficulty with her facts.”

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, July 19, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.