Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The war on workers heads to Phoenix. Republicans in the Arizona state Senate introduced legislation this week that puts Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s war on unions on steroids. The bills would ban collective bargaining for public employee unions – forbid public employees from deducting part of their paychecks to go to union dues – and – unlike in Wisconsin – the bills also targets police and firefighter unions. As the Democratic Senate Minority leader David Schapira described it, “It looks like an all out assault on the right of workers to organize.” Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is expected to support the anti-worker legislation. Maybe she should spend less time staging photo-ops with the President to sell more of her books – and spend more time paying attention to the labor backlash underway across the nation – like in Ohio where voters repealed Governor John Kasich’s anti-labor laws – and in Wisconsin where a truckload of over a million signatures was delivered to the state capital to recall Governor Scott Walker. If Governor Brewer wants to pick a fight with working people – then a fight, she’ll get.
Those in need of healthcare in California are screwed. For the second time in a week – a bill to create a single-payer universal healthcare system in the nation’s biggest state received a majority of the vote in the California state Senate. Unfortunately – for the second time – the bill came up two votes shy of getting the type of majority it needed to pass the state Senate – as four Democrats abstained from voting – four Democrats who were more afraid of facing competitors funded by the for-profit health insurance industry than doing the right thing. Our healthcare system is a national tragedy that leaves 53 million Americans one illness or accident away from financial ruin – and claims the lives of more than 40,000 uninsured Americans every year. We must break the lobbying power of the for-profit health insurance leeches – who have already been outlawed in every other developed nation in the world – and make healthcare a basic human right in America, too.
In the best of the rest of the news…
No surprises – Mitt Romney on the Florida primary last night by 15 points over Newt Gingrich. The Romney campaign – with the help of SuperPACs funded by Wall Street billionaires – carpet-bombed the state with TV ads – airing 13,000 TV ads, compared to Newt Gingrich who only aired 200. But if Romney thought the race would be over soon – he thought wrong. Last night, Gingrich gave a speech to supporters in front of a sign reading “46 states to go.” And thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision – Newt CAN keep running until the end of the primary race – as long as he has casino millionaires cutting him checks. Meanwhile – in a victory interview with CNN last night, Romney admitted that he’s “not concerned with the very poor” in America because they have a “safety net there.” Of course, it’s a safety net that Romney and Republicans in Congress are trying to get rid of. Currently – almost half the nation is in poverty or low-income – meaning the Republican front-runner for President just admitted he’s not considered with half of all Americans.
The Housing crisis in America is now in it’s sixth year – with 9 million homes already foreclosed on – and another 4 million on the verge of foreclosure. But Republicans in Congress would rather help too-big-to-fail banks than struggling homeowners. President Obama is expected to unveil a proposal that will allow homeowners to refinance their mortgages at a lower rate. The nation’s biggest banks will share the cost of refinancing with a tax on any bank that has over $50 billion in assets. Most of these mega banks were responsible for the housing crisis in the first place. But the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Republicans in Congress say any plan to tax too-big-to-fail banks is “dead on arrival.” The ironic thing is – the ten congressional districts that would benefit the most from this refinancing plan are all represented by Republicans. There’s something cancerous in our form of government when lawmakers are turning their backs on their own constituents to help banksters on Wall Street.
Once-prominent figures in the Republican Party are being left behind. Former Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist – who turned Independent after the Tea Party rebelled against him in 2010 – said on Tuesday that he would “consider” voting for President Obama on Election Day. Crist was a popular governor in the sunshine state but decided to not run for re-election and instead tried to be a Senator – but he lost in the Republican Primary to Tea Party darling Marco Rubio. Two years ago – the Republican Party got hijacked by useful idiots who hung tea bags form their hats and take marching orders form millionaires and billionaires. Those millionaires and billionaires got what they wanted – which is one of the most corporate-friendly Congresses in history – meanwhile average Americans who called themselves Tea Partiers still feel screwed and aren’t attending rallies anymore. The Republican Party better reclaim moderate voices again – or it’s on pace for self-destruction.
A mosque in Virginia was vandalized this week. All the first-level windows of the Muslim Community Mosque in Chantilly were shattered after someone threw rocks, beer cans, and liquor bottles through them – causing $60,000 in damages. Police suspect the vandalism was a hate crime. Unfortunately – this is just one of the predictable consequences of a multimillion-dollar Islamophobia industry that preys on the fears of Americans post-9/11 to funnel more money into our military security complex. And Fox so-called News gives these guys a platform.
And finally…the Congressional Budget Office released numbers showing the annual budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion in 2012. And we can thank the extension of the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2010 for more than a third of that deficit. If we really want to do something about the deficit – then it’s time we roll back the Reagan tax cuts – and also end the capital gains loophole so that people like Mitt Romney and Paris Hilton will have to start paying their fair share in taxes.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, February 1st, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.