Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Will $300 billion fix the economy? President Obama hopes so. According to early reports from the White House – the President’s job creation plan set to be unveiled Thursday night will come with a price tag of $300 billion – a number that is likely too high for Republicans to support – given they likely can’t support a $20 dollar job creation package – and also a number far too low for many progressives hoping the President would go bold and throw a trillion dollar package out there. More troubling – only about $50 billion of that $300 billion will ACTUALLY go toward rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The rest will go to tax cuts that have been proven to not have nearly as much bang for the buck as stimulus. The President does plan to extend unemployment benefits also – a critical measure to ease the suffering of millions of unemployed Americans and stimulate the economy – but also a measure that Republicans will target for removal first in negotiations. President Obama’s stimulus package in 2009 kept our economy from a Great Depression – but it wasn’t nearly big enough to re-boot strong job growth. His own economic advisors told him this – but he decided to compromise with Republicans in the Senate by reducing its size and throwing in some tax cuts. As a result – Republicans can make the argument that it failed. Now – it looks like President Obama is making the same mistake twice – with a stimulus package that is too small to work. It’s time to dump the post-partisan-President mantra – and start acting like FDR and Harry Truman. Go bold with a jobs plan tomorrow – and beat the Republicans over the head with it until November.
Budget cuts have consequences – and tens of thousands of Texans are learning that lesson the hard way. This year – Governor Rick Perry cut his state’s volunteer firefighter program by 75% – reducing funding from $30 million down to $7 million for the critical program to prevent wildfires. Now – massive wildfires are engulfing his state – and have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and killed four people. It’s the largest wildfire outbreak in the history of Texas. I think Governor Perry has some explaining to do in tonight’s Republican debate – namely – how he can tout his accomplishments as Governor when he’s literally left his state in flames.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Instead of chanting, “we’re #1,” in America – it may be time to start chanting, “Hey, we’re in the top 5!” The World Economic Forum just released its latest rankings of the world’s most competitive economies – and the United States has slipped to number five. In terms of competitiveness – our economy now ranks below Switzerland – Singapore – Sweden – and Finland. The United States dropped out of the top spot back in 2008 – coinciding with George W. Bush’s last year in the White House – and has been slipping ever since. The World Economic Forum said the reasons for our decline are debt – loss of faith in government – and corporate ethics. In other words, 30 years of Reaganomics.
Speaking of Reaganomics, while we are all taught that the United States is the place where anyone – whether they were born rich or poor – can succeed if they just work hard – the reality is the opposite. According to a new Pew report – 1 in 3 Americans who grew up and were raised in the middle class have since fallen out of that economic class today – and now belong to the working poor. This is the sort of downward economic mobility that is increasing in our nation as wealth inequality also increases – and millionaires, billionaires, and transnational corporations suck more money out of the middle class. The American dream has morphed into the American nightmare.
Want to know where Islamophobia is coming from? – look no further than Fox so-called News. The Brookings Institute just released a new report – charting Americans’ views toward Islam based on where they get their news. Turns out – those who watch Fox so-called News fear Muslims the most. 52% of Fox viewers believe Muslims want to establish Sharia law in America – compared to just 20% who watch CNN, and 29% who watch MSNBC. Also – 60% of Fox viewers believe Islam is not an important part of the America religious community – again far more than CNN and MSNBC. And a whopping 68% of Fox viewers think the values of Islam are at odds with the values of America – far more than the 37% of CNN viewers and the 39% of MSNBC viewers. The Center for American Progress released a report last month on the network of think tanks that and donors that have spent $42 million hyping up fear of Muslims in America. Looks like these fear mongers get the biggest bang for their buck on Fox so-called News.
If you want to be happy for the rest of your life…tax the rich! A new study out of the University of Virginia makes the connection between happiness and a more progressive income tax. The study – which analyzed nearly 60,000 people across 54 nations – found that those who live in countries where the rich pay very high income taxes tend to be much happier than in nation where the tax rate is flatter like here in the United States. The author of the study – psychologist Shigehiro Oishi noted the uptick in happiness among higher-taxed nations was, “explained by a greater degree of satisfaction with the public goods, such as housing, education, and public transportation.” He went on to say, “If the goal of societies is to make citizens happy, tax policy matters…Certain policies, like tax progressivity, seem to be more conducive to the happiness of the people.” So why does the Republican Party hate happiness?
Crazy Alert! “Alchey” elk. A Swedish man returned home late last night and came across a most unusual sight – an elk stuck in an apple tree. That’s right – a full-grown elk – completely off the ground – tangled up in a tree. So much for all those Swedes who sarcastically made jokes about “when elks can fly.” Fire fighters arrived to bend the tree down so the elk can wiggle out of the branches – that’s when it became clear exactly how the elk got in the tree to begin with – he was drunk. Drunken elk are common in Sweden during autumn; when apples fall to the ground and begin to ferment – elks enjoy the tasty, alcoholic treats. After he was free, the elk laid on the ground for a few hours to recover from his bender – and then clumsily scampered off back into the woods. In a related story – Speaker of the House John Boehner denies that he has recently been stuck in a tree.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, September 7th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.