On the News With Thom Hartmann: Evidence Shows That Austerity Is Hurting the US Economy, and More

In today’s On the News Segment: Evidence shows that austerity is hurting the US economy, the Roberts Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Chamber of Commerce in every single case it has heard so far this term, the oligarchs are meeting this weekend to plot how they’re going to buy the elections this year, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Big Oil is buying the United States House of Representatives. On Thursday – House Republicans, with a few Democrats, passed the Domestic Energy Production Act to increase oil drilling, scrap environmental regulations, and mandate drilling on public lands. The vote tally was 248 to 163. And according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics – Big Oil paid a lot of money for all those yes votes. Each of the 248 Members who supported the giveaway to the oil industry received, on average, more than $150,000 in campaign contributions from Big Oil. But, each of the Members who voted no, have only received an average $36,000 from Big Oil. Altogether, Big Oil spent $38.6 million to get enough yes votes to pass the bill. And already, the oil industry has spent more money on the House of Representatives than in 2008 and 2010, with 88% of its campaign contributions going to Republicans. That explains why this is the most anti-environment House in our nation’s history – with one out of every five votes taken to roll back regulation that keep our public lands, air, and water safe from polluters. Remember, Big Oil isn’t really making campaign contributions, they’re making investments – and getting great returns from their Republican shills.

In screwed news…when you’re arguing before the Supreme Court, it helps if the Chamber of Commerce is on your side. Cementing its reputation as the most corporate-friendly court in recent memory, the Roberts Court has ruled in favor of the Chamber of Commerce in every single case it has heard so far this term. That’s seven straight wins for the Chamber, and an overall win percentage of 68% since John Roberts became Chief Justice – higher than under the past two Chief Justices – Rehnquist and Burger. And next week, if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare, it will be an eighth straight win for the Chamber. Not only do we have the best Congress money can buy – it looks we have the best Supreme Court money can buy, too.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The American financial system took a blow late Thursday night when Moody’s Investors Service gave a credit downgrade to a slew of big banks on Wall Street. Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs are among some of the banks that saw their credit downgraded. Moody’s is questioning whether or not the banks can repay their debts. Curiously, the CEOs at the banks have all received record-breaking paychecks this year, just as their businesses go down the tubes – proving that there still is no accountability on Wall Street. Banks being unable to repay their debts got us into the financial crisis to begin with back in 2007, and with House Republicans blocking Wall Street regulations, and banksters again only focused on short-term profits – we may be headed for the same mess. Time to break up “Too Big to Fail,” and revitalize American manufacturing so that our economy depends on building things again, rather than just moving around money.

While the case against austerity is glaringly obvious in Europe, where nations like Greece, Spain, and Portugal are in a death spiral of high unemployment, high suicide rates, and high debt – there’s now more evidence that austerity is hurting the United States economy, too. A study by the Center for American Progress compared states that have cut spending and enacted austerity with states that have increased spending and pro-growth policies. What the study found is – in states that have adopted Republican austerity, the unemployment rate is 4.1 percentage points higher than before the recession, there are 6% fewer private sector jobs, and the state economy is growing 2.7% slower than before the recession. On the other hand, in largely Democratic states that have increased spending – the economy is growing 2.6% faster than before the recession. Basically, states under austerity are watching their economies shrink, states not under austerity are watching their economies grow. Austerity only works to crash economies, which is why Republicans are pushing it so hard while President Obama is in the White House.

The oligarchs are meeting this weekend to plot how they’re going to buy the elections this year. First, Mitt Romney will be hosting a three-day retreat in Utah over the weekend with about 600 hundreds of his biggest fundraisers. Romney is coming off a good fundraising month in May where his camp out-raised the Obama camp $78 million to $60 million. But the real plans to buy the election are being made in California – not Utah. In San Diego this weekend, the Koch brothers are hosing their annual political convention aimed at raising nearly a half billion dollars this election to elect corporate Republicans and defeat Progressives. That means – between now and November – over a billion dollars in negative ads attacking President Obama and Progressives will flood the airwaves – making corporate media outlets very rich, and poisoning public debate across America. We’re entering a whole new era in American politics thanks to the Supreme Court.

And finally…someone needs to inform Republicans that they’re entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own facts. A new poll conducted by Dartmouth and YouGov found that most Republicans still believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That was the main lie that war criminals Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld gave the American people to hype up support for war with Iraq in 2003. But that argument has since been completely debunked. However, nearly ten years later, a majority of Republicans – 63% – still believe it’s true. That compared with only 15% of Democrats who think it’s true. To top it all off, of the Republicans polled who think Saddam had WMDs, 64% also believed that President Obama was born in a different country. I beginning to think that Republicans really do live in the a parallel universe – one in which President Obama was born in Kenya, Fast and Furious is a conspiracy to take our guns away, and rich people are “job creators.”

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, June 22nd, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.