On the News With Thom Hartmann: Corporate Lobbyists Pressure Congress to “Fast-Track” TPP Deal, and More

In today’s On the News segment: The Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens US jobs and US sovereignty; we’ve heard a lot about water shutoffs in Detroit, but another city is about to make headlines for the same problem; New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer wants to protect you from Wall Street banksters; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News…

You need to know this. How do corporate lobbyists get around Congress when their billionaire masters want to destroy regulations that protect workers, our environment and keep jobs here in the United States? Easy. They simply prevent Congress from debating and voting on such protections by attaching them to a massive trade deal and then pressuring them to “fast track” that deal’s approval. As if we didn’t have enough reasons to be against the Trans-Pacific Partnership – aka SHAFTA – now we have to fight that deal’s international rules which would further rig the system for the 1%. Apparently the corporate elite aren’t satisfied with the pro-business, anti-worker legislation that Republicans in Congress have already enacted. The billionaires want to go further, and they don’t even want their congressional lapdogs to tinker around the edges – much less allow opponents to make meaningful amendments. The TPP is being negotiated in secret, and the US public is being kept in the dark about what it contains. But, as Katrina vanden Heuvel explained last week in the Washington Post, “500 corporations and banks sit on advisory committees with access to various chapters.” In other words, we’re not allowed to see the deal that could undermine our nation’s economy, but the corporate elite get to negotiate the details. SHAFTA supporters claim “there’s nothing to see here!” – because they’ve had such a great track record of operating in the public interest. In reality, the Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens US jobs, US sovereignty and the little that remains of the US middle class. This massive trade deal poses a serious threat to our nation, and we must do everything in our power to make sure that it does not become reality. Call Congress and tell them to say “No” to “Fast Track” authority and tell President Obama to say “No” to SHAFTA once and for all.

In 2013, Jersey City became one of the first in our nation to pass a paid sick leave law, and employers there are experiencing real benefits as a result. Jersey City’s new law went into effect in January of 2014, and many businesses had to change their policies to comply with the law. According to a new survey of nearly 300 businesses in that city, more than 40 percent say that they have seen new benefits from the law. About a third reported higher productivity, one in 10 said that they saw lower employee turnover, and about 30 percent are now getting applications from better-qualified people. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop responded to a press release about the new findings and said, “Not only has this legislation not hurt businesses, the exact opposite has been the case with employers reporting less turnover, more productive employees, and a healthier and happier workforce.” Perhaps now that the business benefits are proven, we can finally get Congress to consider a national law to allow people to stay home when they’re sick.

We’ve heard a lot about water shutoffs in Detroit, but another city is about to make headlines for the same problem. Beginning this week, Baltimore, Maryland will be shutting off the water to 25,000 households who owe $250 or more in back water bills. Although city officials blame residents for delinquencies totaling more than $40 million, the vast majority of that balance actually comes from businesses, nonprofits and even government offices. Yet, just like Detroit, Baltimore is targeting residents instead of going after corporate accounts. According to the United Nations, having access to clean water is a human right. But, apparently Detroit and Baltimore don’t think of their residents as human beings. It wasn’t right when water was shut off to the residents of Detroit, and it’s just as shameful that Baltimore is planning on doing this to its people.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer wants to protect you from Wall Street banksters. Earlier this month, Mr. Stringer introduced a new proposal that would require financial advisers to tell you when they’re advising you against your own best interests. Currently, so-called “broker-dealers” can legally give you financial advice that makes them money, even if that advice isn’t the best available option for you, for your needs. In other words, they can suggest certain investment products even if they know that you stand to lose money or make less than you would with an alternative. Somehow, this isn’t already illegal, and Scott Stringer is pushing to change that. He’s calling on the New York State Legislature to pass a bill requiring financial advisers to disclose whether or not they’re putting their own interests ahead of their clients. In an interview with the Think Progress blog, Mr. Stringer said, “Like putting a warning label on a package of cigarettes, this would be a warning label for people who want to protect their life savings.” Hopefully he gets some help to make this happen.

And finally… The Student Loan Strike is growing. It’s been a month since 15 students announced that they would not repay their loans after their school – Corinthian College – broke the law by scamming students. That movement has already grown to nearly 100 students who say that it’s time for the government to address the predatory practices of for-profit colleges, and to address the growing student-debt time bomb. Last week, the students came to Washington, DC to meet with lawmakers, members of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and even the Department of Education. The campaign is being organized by the Debt Collective, which is a nonprofit group working to empower people to stand up to their oppressive creditors. Luke Herrine, one of the organizers, told the Washington Post, “It’s in the [Department of Education’s] interest to discuss this. I don’t think they want more than 100 students refusing to pay their loans publicly. I don’t think it’s a good thing for them.” And Luke is exactly right. Americans understand that the banksters got bailed out and students got sold out, and this movement could spread in the blink of an eye. One hundred brave students stood up to the system, and if officials are smart they will listen before 100 becomes one million.

And that’s the way it is – for the week of April 6, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.