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On the News With Thom Hartmann: GOP Efforts to Restrict the Vote, Outside Groups Spend $1 Billion, and More

On the News With Thom Hartmann

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. It’s not even Election Day yet, and we’re already seeing the effect of Republican efforts to restrict the vote. It was voting chaos in Florida over the weekend, as voters tried to cast their ballots early. Nightmarishly long lines at polling places forced voters to wait in line for as many as nine hours. At one polling place, more than 180 voters had their cars towed away while they were waiting to vote. This is all the result of Republicans in the state legislature deciding to cut down the number of early voting days this year from 14 down to 8. Republican Governor Rick Scott rejected calls to keep polling places open longer to accommodate for the influx of voters, but he refused saying that only a natural disaster would warrant extending voting hours. On Tuesday, more chaos is expected as fewer polling places will be open around the state than in 2008 – thanks to budget cuts. Similarly long line were reported in Ohio – where Republican Secretary of State John Husted also cut down on early voting hours. There are many ways to rig an election – cutting down on early voting is just one of them. Stay tuned.

In screwed news…another way to rig an election is to blatantly mislead voters. That’s exactly what Republican candidate for Senate in Arizona, Jeff Flake, is doing. According to local news outlets – Flake’s Senate campaign sent out a mas robo call to Democratic voters in the state telling them to vote in the wrong precinct. Of course, if a voter casts a vote in the wrong polling place – their vote won’t count. The campaign has yet to comment on whether it was a mistake or an intentional effort to sabotage the Democratic vote. The Arizona Senate race is one of a handful in the country that is too close to call and could tip the balance of power in the Senate. The stakes are high – and Republicans will resort to anything to win.

In the best of the rest of the news…

So just how much of a freakshow is this election? Well, thanks to Citizens United, outside spending groups have dumped nearly one billion dollars into this election so far – which is more money than outside groups have spent in the last eight federal elections…combined! And it’s the Republican Party that is benefiting the most from all of this secret corporate cash. More than two-thirds of outside spending has gone into the coffers of Republican politicians. This will be the third major election since the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling. And in the previous two – the 2010 midterm and the Wisconsin recall – big money has defeated organized people. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you vote on Election Day – or else big money will win again.

Austerity may win out at the polls in Election Day – and if so – we should pay close attention to what’s happening in Greece. Greek labor unions kicked off three days of anti-austerity action today – beginning with doctors, taxi drives and journalists walking off the job. Over the next few days – schools, tax offices, government buildings, and transportation services will be shut down across Greece as unionized workers walk off the job to protest austerity. The Greek Parliament is expected to pass a new round of austerity measures this week that cut pay and pensions for public workers – and further sink Greece’s economy. This is what austerity does – it crashes economies so that corporate predators can move in and feast on the commons. We here in the United States have been warned.

Tax rates on corporations have been a hot issue this election – and with one day to go we’re all getting a reminder that corporations aren’t paying their fair share anymore. Apple – the most valuable company on the planet – paid just 1.9% on its overseas profits according to new filing data. The company made $36.8 billion in the last fiscal year – yet paid less than 2% in taxes thanks to creative – and legal – accounting that funnels corporate profits through tax shelters in Ireland and the Caribbean. Hypothetically, if Apple did pay its fair share in taxes in the United States – then its tax bill for one year would more than double what Apple has paid in taxes over the last 11 years combined. Apple makes cool, high-tech gadgets – but they don’t pay for any of the social services that allow those gadgets to even be possible. There’s a word for that – it’s called “freeloading.”

And finally – people aren’t just looking to get elected on Tuesday – there are important ballot measures up for a vote as well. Perhaps most important is Prop 37 in California – which will require all GMOs to be specifically labeled in grocery stores. Despite polls showing overwhelming support among voters for the measure – it’s a toss-up as to whether or not it will get passed tomorrow. That’s because major agribusiness and food companies like Monsanto have spent huge amounts of money misinforming voters on the legislation. These companies have spent more than $45 million to defeat Prop 37 – more than 5-times what supporters of Prop 37 have spent. While most of Europe has already banned most GMOs – here in the United States, 70% of the food in our grocery stores contains GMOs and most Americans are completely unaware of it. Hence, the need for labeling. This will be another test-case of organized money versus organized people. We Americans have a right to know what’s in our food – and for some reason corporations are trying to keep us in the dark.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, November 05, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

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