Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon starred in another dog and pony show on Capitol Hill Tuesday – this time appearing before the House Financial Services Committee. While receiving some tough questions from Democrats on the Committee who aren’t as dependent on Wall Street money, Dimon was once again given a free pass by Republicans who get big bucks from Dimon. At the top of that list is Financial Services Committee Chairman Republican Spencer Bachus – who calls JP Morgan Chase his second-highest campaign contributor of all time – receiving more than $100,000 from the bank. But Republicans in the House didn’t just do Wall Street a favor on Tuesday by taking it easy on their poster boy, Jamie Dimon. They also voted to slash funding for critical Wall Street regulators at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Republicans cut funding for the CFTC by $25 million from last year – and by $120 million from President Obama’s request. The massive cuts come just as the CFTC badly needs new funding to implement the new Wall Street regulations that came with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law passed in 2010. Unfortunately for the American people, who want to see banksters held accountable for their crimes, and want our markets safe and regulated – Republicans right across the board have sold out to Wall Street.
In screwed news…multi-millionaire Congressman Paul Ryan wants to raise YOUR taxes, while cutting his own. The Congressional Joint Economic Committee released a new report on the House’s Paul Ryan budget – finding that while it gives huge tax cuts to the top 2% of Americans – it actually raises taxes on middle class families. Under the Ryan plan – which Republicans passed out of the House of Representatives nearly unanimously earlier this year – households earning more than a million dollars a year would see a tax cut of about $300,000 a year. But average income households like the middle class would actually see their taxes go up by several percent. The Ryan plan also reverses some of President Obama’s tax cuts for working Americans who make less than $30,000 a year – basically raising their taxes, too. So when Republicans say they can’t raise taxes on anyone – and even sign pledges to not raise taxes on anyone – they’re lying. What they really mean is – they can’t raise taxes on their Romney super-rich buddies who are funding their re-election campaigns.
In the best of the rest of the news…
The U.S. call center industry has lost 500,000 jobs over the last six years thanks to corporations like Bank of America, Well Fargo, and T-Mobile outsourcing Americans jobs to foreign countries where they can exploit low-wage workers. But on Tuesday, Republicans in the House had a chance to put an end to this giant sucking sound by passing the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which would cut off federal loans and grants to corporations that outsource American call center jobs. Unfortunately for Americans workers, the bill failed as House Republicans lined up against it – voting it down, while most Democrats supported the bill. The big four Wall Street banks have all moved their call centers to the Phillipines in the last few years, laying off hundreds of thousands of American workers who bailed out the banks to the tune of a couple hundred billion dollars back in 2008. Time to call your Member of Congress – especially if they’re a Republican – and ask why they support stimulating the Filipino economy over the American economy.
The Republican descent into the “Fast and Furious” Twilight Zone continues. As early as today – Republican Darryl Issa’s House Oversight Committee will vote on a measure to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for not turning over DOJ documents related to the “Fast and Furious” program. It was a program started by the Bush Administration, and centered on selling guns in Mexico and then tracking those guns up to high-level drug cartels. The program was abandoned after an American border patrol agent was killed in a shoot-out with suspected undocumented immigrants that were using “Fast and Furious” guns. Despite testifying eight times in front of Congress and handing over thousands of documents, Attorney General Holder was unable to satisfy Congressman Issa’s witch-hunt. And this morning – The White House asserted executive privilege over the remaining documents that Issa is demanding – a move that President George W. Bush employed six times, and President Clinton used 14 times. So much for trying to put Americans back to work: Republicans are more interested in embarrassing the White House – but really, they’re only embarrassing themselves.
Facing an extradition to Sweden – and then possibly the United States – Wikileaks founder Julian Assange fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to seek political asylum. In a letter to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa – Assange wrote that he faces extradition to, “a foreign country that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and sedition.” Currently – Ecuadorian officials are reviewing Assange’s request for asylum – meanwhile he is out of reach of British police while he remains – techinically – on foreign soil within the Ecuadorian Embassy. Even China allowed one of their political dissidents to find asylum in the United States earlier this year. We’ll see if the British Government grants the same rights to Assange to leave that country.
And finally…after seven weeks of political turmoil, Greece finally has a government. Reaching out to other pro-austerity Parties – the Conservative New Democracy Party cobbled together a coalition government that will likely keep Greece in the Eurozone for now. The leader of the New Democracy Party – Antonis Samaras – was sworn in as Prime Minister today just ahead of an upcoming meeting with Eurozone finance ministers where the new Greek government will try to renegotiate the bailout deal and ease some of the harsh austerity that European banksters have forced on Greece. Stay tuned.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, June 20, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.