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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Federal Circuit Court Rules That Corporations Can Patent Human Genes, and More


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Now that Republicans know they can play hostage taker and win – what will be the next hostage? Well, of course they're holding the FAA workers hostage right now, trying to strip their right to unionize. But for the really big battle, mark September 30th on your calendar. A few weeks after Republicans return from their 5-week vacation – the 18-cent federal gasoline tax is set to expire – and legislation will be needed to renew it. While the gas tax translates to slightly higher prices at the pump – it’s also responsible for funding road construction projects all around the country that employ hundreds of thousands of construction workers – so letting it expire could have devastating consequences for joblessness and the America economy. Yet – signs are that’s exactly what Republicans plan to do. At least that’s what their overlord anti-tax master Grover Norquist is pushing for – telling Politico that his organization Americans for Tax Reform, “has always supported the idea of ending the federal tax on gas and having states pay for their own roads.” Right – states that are bankrupt. When Norquist talks – Republicans listen, as we saw with their blind allegiance to the no-taxes-pledge that handcuffed them from voting for any new taxes in the debt-limit deal and will likely prevent them from supporting an extension of the gasoline tax. But the gasoline tax will just be the beginning – Republicans can play hostage taker with another government shutdown in the cards as a second budget battle looms in October. And then at the end of the year – unemployment benefits expire – who knows how Republicans will leverage the desperation of millions of Americans to advance their economy-crashing agenda. Meet the modern-day economic terrorists with working Americans in their sights – the Republican Party.

With the new debt-limit deal signed by the President, the United States was spared a credit rating downgrade…sort of. Moody’s credit rating agency upheld our nation’s AAA credit rating – but lowered our nation’s outlook to “negative” – a sign that a credit downgrade could occur in the next year. And yesterday’s debt-limit deal did very little to calm the plummeting markets. The Dow Jones lost big for the eighth day in a row yesterday – the worst losing streak since 2008 – as investors stare down a bleak economic outlook for the country. The non-partisan Economic Policy Institute estimated yesterday that the debt-limit deal would cost the US economy 1.8 million jobs by next year – and suck $241 billion out of the economy. If that’s the case – and our crippled economy has nearly 2 million jobs fewer next year than it does today – then President Obama can kiss his re-election chances goodbye. He was warned by progressives, but chose to try Clintonian triangulation, and it blew up in his face.

In the best of the rest of the news…

So much for balance in the second round of the debt-limit debate. Just as soon as the creation of the “Super Congress” Gang of Twelve became law – Republican leadership shot down the idea of tax increases coming out of the Super Congress – by promising to appoint 6 Republicans who will refuse to support making billionaire hedge fund managers – billionaire oil corporations – and billionaire corporate jet owners contribute one nickel toward deficit reduction. And if the Gang of Twelve can’t come to consensus – then automatic triggers will slash $1.5 billion more dollars from spending – with not one penny of revenue increases. Even though the President is pitching this deal as a balanced plan – it’s not. And the second round of the debt-limit debate will yield the same results as the first – crippling spending cuts that further screw over working and middle class families and drive the economy deeper into recession.

We want more taxes! So says 142,000 Coloradans who are trying to work around their Republican “starve the beast” state legislature and raise taxes in the cash-strapped state. The “Bright Colorado” coalition turned in a petition with 142,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office clearing the way for a November ballot initiative to raise sales and income taxes to 1999 levels. Only 86,000 signatures were needed for a ballot measure – but the petition drive garnered far more. The purpose of the tax hike is to collect $3 billion to pump into the state’s public education system that is withering under deep spending cuts. As one state senator argued about the upcoming ballot measure, “By voting yes, Colorado will establish itself as a national leader by reinvesting in our future, our kids, jobs and our economy.” Republican politicians may be economically stupid, but the people aren't.

Corporations can now profit from our genes. Last Friday – a Federal Circuit court ruled that corporations could patent human genes. The lawsuit was brought by the Public Patent Foundation and the ACLU – both groups claimed patenting human genes violates the first amendment because human genes are part of nature. But the judges by a 2-to-1 margin disagreed – instead ruling that when human genes are isolated – they no longer are naturally occurring in the wild and thus can be bought by corporations to be turned into profits. So much for thinking the genes in your body belonged to you – they’ll soon belong to some massive transnational corporation. But I’m sure the CEOs will be more than happy to sell them back to you…for a price.

Like the House – the Senate is now on vacation too – but not before Republicans could latch on to a procedural gimmick to keep President Obama from making a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Over the next month – a serious of “pro forma” session will be held that technically keep the Senate in session even though no Senators are in town and no business is being done – just so Republicans can keep up their opposition to the new consumer rights agency that would stop big banks from screwing over the rest of us. Leave it up to Republicans to figure out a way to filibuster while they're sitting by the pool with their billionaire donors.

Crazy Alert! It’s not the aliens – it’s the wallabies! Tasmanian farmers have been scratching their heads and looking out into the universe to find the culprits behind crop circles. But now – Tasmanian officials have found the real creatures behind the farmland vandalism – and they aren’t E.T.s – but instead stoned wallabies. That’s right – Tasmania grows half of the world’s legal opium – and the opium crops are a favorite of wallabies that munch down and then go on a mind-altered romp through the Tasmanian farmlands – bending down crops and creating elaborate crop circles. Stoned sheep have also been known to get in the game too. As for the crop circles in the US – since there are no stoned wallabies hopping around – there’s only one explanation…Charlie Sheen.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

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