In today’s On the News Segment: The Buffett rule is up for a long-shot vote in the Senate today, bankrupt Hostess wants employees to accept a more than 75 percent pension cut, Spain threatens Argentina for its plans to nationalize a Spanish energy company, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The Buffett rule will get a vote in the Senate today – but likely won’t be able to overcome a unified Republican filibuster. President Obama’s proposal will force millionaires and billionaires like Warren Buffet and Mitt Romney to pay at least the same tax rate as working Americans. Currently – America’s super rich like Mitt Romney take advantage of loopholes created by the Bush tax cuts – and pay far lower rates than even a lot of middle class Americans. Making the Romney rich pay their fair share in taxes has been a rallying call by both Democratic and Republican Presidents in history – from Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan to now Barack Obama. Unfortunately – now that the rules of the Senate have been changed by the Republican minority to require 60-votes to pass anything – no tax reform will get through the House. And now that the wealthiest House of Representatives in history was elected with over $300 million in corporate spending in 2010 – multimillionaires Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and John Boehner refuse to consider any sort of tax increases because multi-millionaire lobbyist Grover Norquist won’t let them. Republicans are pushing the media to focus on a $600,000 GSA scandal and whether or not Secret Service Agents hooked up with prostitutes, rather than actually making our economy work for the middle class again.
Our democracy is screwed. We’re just now finding out that at the end of last year an anonymous donor gave Karl Rove’s Crossroads SuperPAC a $10 million donation to run ads against President Obama. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision – and the “Wild West” nature of political spending now – that $10 million donor will likely remain completely anonymous – and could be a person – a corporation – a special interests group – or even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for all we know. During the 2010 midterm elections – there was another anonymous donor who gave $10 million to defeating Democrats – suggesting that the same person may be responsible for the two biggest buy-offs in American political history. We have the super wealthy choosing our politicians – and the worst part about it is that we have no idea just who the heck they are.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Mitt Romney may be the Republicans’ guy for President – but he’s still not the Tea Party’s guy. In an interview with the Conservative Daily Caller – Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips had a message for the presumptive nominee saying, “The tea party is not going to coalesce around Romney…Most of us will vote for Romney, but we will not be out there with signs for him or his campaign.” Of course – after Romney shakes the etch-a-sketch and portrays himself as a moderate against President Obama in the general election – then even the Tea Party votes might not be a guarantee anymore. But this may have an upside for Romney – a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that a plurality of Americans – 45% – now disapprove of the Tea Party – and the more Americans hear about Tea Party policies like ending Social Security – the more they dislike it.
The corporate screw job at Twinkie-makers, Hostess, continues. In the midst of bankruptcy – the company is giving its unionized workers one final offer to accept reduced pension benefits before a bankruptcy court throws out the union’s collective bargaining agreements. The company wants its workers to accept a pension cut of more than 75% – and accept new workplace rules that could pave the way for layoffs. The Teamsters union representing the workers rejected the offer. Last year – Hostess looted its dwindling cash reserves and gave its eight top executives an 80% pay raise as the company was headed toward bankruptcy – and now Hostess wants its rank-and-file workers to pay for the fatcat’s bonuses. Something to think about next time you consider purchasing a Twinkie.
House Republicans are planning to gut consumer protections for millions of Americans. Last week – the House Financial Services Committee – chaired by Representative Spencer Bachus, who is under investigation for insider trading – released their plans to cut consumer protections. First – House Republicans want to get rid of the government’s power to wind down big financial firms without having to bail them out. This was a new power given to the federal government in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law passed after the financial meltdown of 2008. Republicans also want to end the White House’s foreclosure prevention program aimed at keeping struggling homeowners in their homes – and cut the Consumer Protection Bureau’s budget by two-thirds. What does all of this mean? More profits for giants banks and the Republican’s friends on Wall Street – and more fees, fine print, and predatory lending for you and me.
An international incident could be brewing in South America. On Friday – the Spanish government delivered a warning to Argentina – threatening that Argentina will become an “international pariah” if it moves forward with nationalizing a Spanish energy company. The energy company YPF – one of the largest oil and gas producers in Argentina – was bought out by the Spanish company Repsol in 1999. But now – Argentina wants to take back Repsol’s 57% share of the company – and hand it back to the Argentinean people. Spain’s foreign minister took the threat a step further saying that plans for nationalization would be seen as “aggression” against the Spanish government as well. Regardless of the international consequences – Argentina is on the right track – and all countries of the world should work toward nationalizing their natural resources.
And finally…the number of corporations and organizations to cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council has reached ten. At the end of last week – American Traffic Solutions became the tenth ALEC member to jump ship in the face of a boycott led by several progressive organizations. ALEC is calling the effort against them an “intimidation campaign.” But considering that ALEC is the leading force behind both the “Shoot First” laws and the new Voter ID laws that knock millions of Democratic voters off the rolls – the only “intimidation campaign” out there is the one ALEC is leading against American voters.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, April 16, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.