On the News With Thom Hartmann: Department of Justice Investigating Pennsylvania Over New Voter ID Laws, and More

In today’s On the News segment: The Department of Justice is investigating another state over controversial voter suppression ID laws that will end up kicking millions of Democratic voters off the rolls; over the next few months, as Republicans make their case to the American people that they deserve another two years running the House of Representatives, Republicans are trying to kill the Dodd Frank Wall Street reform law intended to prevent another financial meltdown; and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. The Department of Justice is investigating another state over controversial Voter Suppression ID laws that will end up kicking millions of Democratic voters off the rolls. This time it’s Pennsylvania, with the DOJ launching a formal investigation into whether the state’s new Voter Suppression ID law discriminates against minorities. The DOJ has already filed suit against Texas and South Carolina over their respective Voter Suppression ID laws – but the investigation into Pennsylvania marks the first time the DOJ has targeted a state not covered under the Civil Rights Act, which protects minorities living in states with a history of racial discrimination. The state’s VoterSuppression ID law is also being challenged within Pennsylvania, as a number of plaintiffs led by 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, who will be unable to obtain the necessary identification to vote, are suing the state to have the law repealed. Pennsylvania is the perfect example of why these Voter Suppression ID laws are not about curbing voter fraud, which virtually doesn’t exist, but actually about helping Republicans win in November. As Pennsylvania’s Republican Speaker of the House, Mike Turzai, told a group of fellow Republicans in June, “Voter ID…is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

In screwed news…over the next few months as Republicans make their case to the American people that they deserve another two years running the House of Representatives, they’ll likely leave out the $1.3 billion they cost the government back in 2011. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, Republican obstruction efforts around the debt-ceiling led to the first-ever credit downgrade of the United States – which cost the federal government $1.3 billion in increased borrowing costs. That’s in addition to the more than two weeks Republicans spent casting more than 30 purely political votes against the President’s signature health reform law – costing taxpayers as much as $50 million in the process. Republicans have been great at wasting money these last two years, but downright awful at creating jobs. As a Huffington Post survey of leading non-partisan economists found – the thirty-plus so-called “jobs bills” that Republicans say they’ve passed in the House will actually not create any jobs. As Gary Burtless, a senior economist at Brookings said, “A lot of these things are laughable in terms of a jobs plan that would produce noticeable improvements across the country.” It’s amazing that anyone would vote to let these guys spend another two years running the People’s House into the ground.

In the best of the rest of the news…

It’s no secret that Republicans are trying to kill the Dodd Frank Wall Street reform law intended to prevent another financial meltdown. And a new report by Public Campaign shows Republicans are being handsomely rewarded for their efforts by Wall Street. So far, in the 2012 election cycle – 64% of Wall Street’s hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign donations have gone to Republicans. That’s compared to just 47% in 2008 – before Dodd Frank. And looking at outside contributions – donations by Wall Street have exploded 20-fold since 2008, and Republicans are receiving 90% of those dollars. Plain and simple – Republicans represent the best political party money can buy.

Big Brother is watching you. In an interview with Current TV on Monday, former NSA senior official Thomas Drake revealed that the NSA is not just monitoring international phone calls and emails as its been given the authority to do, but also domestic calls and emails. As Drake said, “a key decision [was] made shortly after 9/11, which began to rapidly turn the United States of America into the equivalent of a foreign nation for dragnet blanket electronic surveillance.” Drake admitted that data is being collected on virtually “the entire country” and then being inserted into a computer algorithm to pick out suspicious chatter. It’s been long speculated – and even known – that the government was abusing its powers and spying on innocent Americans during the Bush administration. Unfortunately, since the whole nation has been whipped into a fear of terrorism, not many seem to have the courage to speak truth to power.

Since he hasn’t had a camera turned on him in a few weeks, Newt Gingrich felt the need to wade into the Michele Bachmann/Muslim Brotherhood controversy on Monday. Asked by Politico, whether or not he believes – as Bachmann believes – that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the American Government, Gingrich responded. “I think it’s worth knowing,” and he went on to ask those critical of Bachmann’s baseless claims, “what is it they’re afraid of learning?” The subject of Bachmann’s – and now Gingrich’s – wild conspiracy theories is deputy Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin – who now needs an extra security detail after threats were made against her. The ACTUAL Muslim Brotherhood dismissed the allegations, pointing out that they can hardly infiltrate the Egyptian Government let alone the United States government. But one has to wonder if Bachmann is trying to stir up an international incident to undo all the progress President Obama has made in the Middle East since his “tear down this dictator” speech in 2009 kicked off the Arab Spring.

And finally…for the second time in a month, another damning report is out blaming the Fukushima nuclear crisis on TEPCO and government regulators who failed to take necessary measures to ensure the plants were safe from natural disasters. In recent weeks, Japan has restarted two nuclear reactors for the first time since the crisis began last year, but this new report suggests that the steps taken since last year to prevent another nuclear crisis are not sufficient enough to deal with potential disasters – both man-made and natural. Unfortunately, the panel didn’t have time to look deeper into the situation at reactor 4, which many fear could collapse should another earthquake strike – trigger a nuclear catastrophe worse than Chernobyl.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, July 24, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.