Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. After Democrats said a short-term debt-limit deal that kicks the can down the road to be picked up again 6-months from now in the middle of an election season is a NON-STARTER – guess what Speaker of the House John Boehner did yesterday? He released a short-term debt-limit deal that kicks the can down the road to be picked up again 6-months from now in the middle of an election season. That’s right – a few days after Boehner took his toys and went home – breaking off negotiations with the White House and accusing the President of playing politics – Boehner offered up a debt-limit plan soaked in politics that includes NO revenue raisers and doesn’t solve our debt-problem AT ALL. In fact – the credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s warned that if Boehner’s plan is passed to avoid an immediate default next week – the agency will STILL downgrade our debt because the Boehner plan is nothing more than a gimmick. So now the only viable solution seems to be Harry Reid’s plan which also isn’t balanced since it includes NOT ONE single penny in tax increases on corporations, millionaires, and billionaires. But at least it saves entitlements from deep cuts. The President threw his weight behind the Reid plan last night in a speech to the nation – signaling that a balanced approach is now off the table in debt-limit negotiations and that working people will bear much of the burden of deficit reduction – just as Republicans wanted. Regardless of what plan passes out of Congress at this point – working people and the middle-class in the country are going to get a bad deal. And we can thank corporate shills like Tom Friedman, virtually all of the corporate media, and the lobbyists for the billionaire class pushing the story that there some mythical “centrist” voter out there who's worried about US debt, loves so-called “free trade,” and thinks Social Security and Medicare are too generous – but doesn't care at all about jobs for it. Perhaps most tragically, it seems the White House is buying the myth, instead of rolling back the Reagan tax cuts and bringing our jobs back home from overseas. Welcome to the next Great Depression.
Voters in Wisconsin are screwed. Like many Republican Governors around the nation – Governor Scott Walker jammed a restrictive voter ID law through his state legislature earlier this year requiring people to show a drivers license or other form of photo ID in order to vote. These sorts of laws have been proven to disenfranchise poor, elderly, and college-age voters who don’t drive a car – and who also tend to vote for Democrats. But Walker argues this isn’t about politics – it’s about curbing voter fraud – which is a non-issue that happens less often than people getting struck by lightning. But unlike other Republican Governors – Scott Walker is going one step further to REALLY screw over voters in his state. Walker is now closing DMV offices around Wisconsin – making it even harder for people to get the photo IDs that are now needed to vote. And guess which DMV offices he’s closing? The ones in Democratic areas of course! And he’s expanding hours of DMV offices in Republican areas. Despite what Walker says – this move IS just about politics. With Republicans state lawmakers facing 6 upcoming recall elections – and Walker himself likely facing a recall next year – it’s obvious the Governor is doing everything he can to keep his job – and chipping away at the core of democracy itself in the process.
In the best of the rest of the news…
The Institute for Policy Studies has figured out a way to pay off our entire $14 trillion debt in ten years. And, it’s a very, very simple solution – just tax corporations, millionaires, and billionaires at the same rate they were taxed in 1961 – you know – back when the nation was booming and the American middle class was growing. Rich Americans are paying fewer taxes now than any other time in the last 50 years – which is the main reason we’re in debt. And as the Institute for Policy Studies noted – if corporations and households earning more than $1 million a year were taxed at 1961 levels – the government would collect more than $700 billion more each year – enough to pay down the debt in a decade. As part of their “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan – Republicans proposed cutting government spending down to 1966 levels, but they didn't go even near raising taxes to 1966 levels. That’s the wrong approach. Instead – tax levels need to be returned to 1961 levels when there was so much money available that John Kennedy was planning to put a man on the moon. Paying down the debt is SO easy – yet our “for the rich, by the rich” politicians are ignoring the obvious solutions.
Last year – Conservatives in the UK rammed through an economic austerity package filled with deep spending cuts similar to the plans that are being kicked around on Capitol Hill this week. And today – we’re seeing the effects of those spending cuts on the British economy. In the second quarter of this year – the British economy grew at a measly .2% rate – that’s essentially no growth. In the two preceeding quarters, net growth was zero. So over the last 9 months since the austerity package was passed – the British economy has tanked. And that’s what’s going to happen in the United States if we pursue deep spending cuts too – say hello to a double-dip depression. We don’t have a debt crisis in America – we have a jobs crisis, with a real unemployment rate above 16% – and an all-spending-cuts package will only make the jobs crisis worse.
BP is back. A year after the transnational oil corporation triggered the worst ecological disaster in the nation's history and killed 11 men in the process – BP announced this morning profits of $5.6 billion in just the second quarter of this year. Considering that BP has only paid out $4 billion of the $20 billion fund set up to help those devastated by last year’s oil spill – it’s no wonder why they have a lot of extra cash on hand. Unfortunately – investors were disappointed in the numbers and were expecting much higher profits this quarter. I guess that means it’s time to cut more corners when it comes to safety just to maximize profits.
Is Fox News trying to get New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to run for President? Yesterday – the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Governor Christie to force the Governor’s office to release records of a meeting the Governor had last year with Roger Ailes – the Chairman of Fox News. The suit was filed on behalf of investigative reporter John Cook who is trying to determine whether or not Ailes met with Christie to encourage him to make a White House run. After the lawsuit was filed – the Governor’s office released a redacted calendar entry that showed Christie was indeed in New York and was having a private dinner on the night that he was alleged to have met with Ailes. The ACLU has now dropped the suit. Meanwhile – we’ll have to wait and see if the Fox News political machine successfully nabbed another Republican contender to take on the President in 2012.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, July 26th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.