On the News With Thom Hartmann: Americans Are Already Feeling the Pinch of Austerity, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Only 4 days after the March 1st Sequester deadline, people around our nation are already starting to feel the pinch of austerity; Republican lawmakers in Texas don’t care if low-income residents have health care; The Dow Jones average beat it’s all-time high this morning; and More.

You need to know this. Only 4 days after the March 1st Sequester deadline, people around our nation are already starting to feel the pinch of austerity. Customs and Border Protection reduced overtime for TSA agents over the weekend, and delays at some airports were up 200%. According to the statement released by that agency, “lanes that would have previously been open due to overtime staffing were closed, further exacerbating wait times at airports.” Additional workforce reductions are expected in the coming weeks, so airport officials say the problem will get even worse. And TSA agents aren’t the only ones feeling the pain. The Georgia Department of Labor issued a press release Monday to inform people receiving extended unemployment benefits that they will soon see a 10.7% reduction in their weekly checks. In Georgia, the maximum amount someone can receive under EUC benefits is only $330, and the average is just $260. A ten percent cut in those benefits won’t just hurt struggling families, but will have a larger impact to the local economy as people will have less money to spend. Even in Republican’s most cherished industry – defense – people are feeling the pain of austerity. Yesterday, General Dynamics, a company that constructs U.S. Navy ships, warned employees that over 1,000 people will be laid off indefinitely in April, because of the sequester. In less than a week, Republican austerity measures are already wreaking havoc on working people throughout our nation. It isn’t difficult to see how cuts like these will have a broad impact on our economy. We need to be investing in our nation, not cutting off people’s economic lifelines. That’s why we need to support the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Balancing Act, which invests in America’s future, instead of dooming us to austerity.

In screwed news… Republican lawmakers in Texas don’t care if low-income residents have health care. At least, that’s the logical conclusion to take after that state’s House Republicans voted to oppose Medicaid expansion in their state. Of course, the legislators say they need more “flexibility” on how to administer healthcare, and they’re working on plans to make coverage available to uninsured Texans. And it just so happens all the plans they’re considering would line the pockets of their for-profit insurance company buddies. According to the Houston Chronicle, lawmakers in Texas may use Medicaid funds to buy private coverage for poor people in their state, or simply hand over the entire program to the for-profit industry, like Governor Rick Scott of Florida. It would be great to see everyone in Texas, and throughout our nation, have access to affordable healthcare…but we shouldn’t let Republicans privatize it in order to make it happen.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The Dow Jones average beat it’s all-time high this morning, topping it’s previous record from before the 2008 meltdown. Set back in 2007, the previous record was 14,164, but today the Dow rose to over 14,220. It’s clear that Wall Street has fully recovered from the economic crash, but the rest of us continue to struggle, because all of the income gains from the economic rebound went straight to the top 1%. In fact, as the Think Progress Blog points out, the wealthiest in our nation have captured 121% of the economic rebound, which means that everyone but the top 1% actually lost economic ground since 2008. It sure seems like bailing out Wall Street backfired on the American people, and this is exactly why we need reforms like a financial transaction tax. Not only would it help our economy, but it would finally make Banksters pay for gambling with our economy.

Late last year, Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected Rick Snyder’s emergency manager law, but only six weeks later, Republican state lawmakers defied the will of Michiganders and reenacted the exact same law. Michigan’s House Republicans attached appropriations money to the second version of the law, which prevents a repeal by the voters. And now Gov. Snyder is set to take control of that state’s largest city, Detroit. According to Governor Snyder, the emergency manager will take control on March 11, and it may be in control for 18 months – despite an election coming up in only eight months. And you’ll never guess who CBS Detroit is suggesting for the emergency manager position…Mr. Mitt “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” Romney. Yep, you heard that right. The local CBS affiliate says Romney isn’t afraid to make tough decisions, and he has “a career immersed in turnarounds.” Someone may want to inform CBS Detroit that Romney specialized in vulture capitalism, by breaking up companies and selling them off for parts. Is Romney really the best guy to run Detroit? It’s obvious that Gov. Snyder and Republican lawmakers in that state don’t give a damn about what voters say or want, but the people of Detroit should make it clear they won’t stand by and watch Mitt Romney sell off their city for scraps.

And finally… If you’ve ever felt like you needed time away from your spouse, you’re not the only one. But one New York City man had a unique idea on how to get some “alone time.” The NYPD reports that Rahmel Wallace faked his own kidnapping, in order to explain a prolonged absence to his girlfriend. After a February 19th report that he hap been abducted by two men in a blue minivan, police sources said the man was found hog-tied, with his mouth covered with duct tape. Once in custody, Wallace admitted he had faked the kidnapping to avoid his girlfriend’s anger over his unexplained absence. He has since been charged with filing a false police report. One law-enforcement source told The Post, “It was a pathetic attempt to pull the wool over her eyes.” It looks like Mr. Wallace won’t have to explain his next disappearance, as he’ll be getting that much-needed “alone time” in jail.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, March 5, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.