In today’s On the News segment: It cost corporations less than $18,000 per vote to get “fast track” passed in the United States Senate; Barcelona, Spain, has voted against austerity; the New York State Assembly wants to make health care a right for every citizen; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News…
You need to know this. It cost corporations less than $18,000 per vote to get “fast track” passed in the United States Senate. According to a recent analysis by The Guardian newspaper, corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP donated more than $1.1 million to Senate campaigns in the first quarter of 2015. The average Democrat received about $9,700, and the average Republican raked in almost $20,000. Although last-minute donations may have increased the price of approval, it looks like corporations got a pretty good deal on fast track and the American people got a raw deal from our lawmakers. For a measly ten or twenty thousand bucks, US Senators were willing to give up their constitutionally mandated power to modify legislation and hand control of our nation over to their corporate masters. According to what we know about this massive, secret trade deal, our laws and regulations could be on the chopping block for their impact on corporate profits, and our jobs and sovereignty will be gone as well. And, don’t forget that when those who’ve lost their jobs apply for help from the so-called Trade Adjustment Assistance program, they’ll be receiving those funds our of money that should have gone to pay for Medicare. That’s because of a last-minute change to the fast-track legislation that took $700 million from seniors’ healthcare to pay for the inevitable effects of corporate greed and the TPP. It seems like every time we turn around we learn about another reason that this trade deal is bad news for our nation. But, that hasn’t stopped 65 US Senators from doing the bidding of their corporate masters. We can’t stop pushing Congress to say “No” to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and we must hold accountable those who answer to corporations instead of We, The People. We may not be able to stop corporations from donating to Congress, but we can stop their money from having any real effect. Let’s keep up the fight against SHAFTA, and let’s make sure that those who support it find themselves out of work in their next election.
Barcelona, Spain, has voted against austerity. Last week, that city elected their first-ever female mayor, and she happens to be an anti-poverty activist. In a surprising victory, Ada Colau won the race with the help of a coalition of several leftist political parties, who campaigned on stopping home evictions and redistributing that city’s wealth. The incoming mayor has a long history of anti-eviction activism, and she called her win “a victory for David over Goliath.” Just as we’ve seen in Greece and other parts of the world, citizens are sick of living under austerity while banksters and billionaires continue to get rich. In addition to Barcelona, it’s possible that Madrid – the capital of Spain – could wind up with left-wing mayor as well, if Manuela Carmena, the leader of the communist party, forms a coalition with the socialists. All around the world, people are fighting to put an end to austerity, and it looks like Barcelona is one more victory in that war.
Here we go again. Back in April, the potential merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable fell apart because of public and regulatory pressure. So, the executives at another behemoth cable provider decided to pick up where Comcast left off. Last week, officials announced that Time Warner will merger with Charter Communications instead. If this deal is approved, Charter would become the second largest cable company, and they would gain about 12 million customers. Instead of building their own infrastructure to compete with Comcast, Charter would take on $55 billion in debt, but not provide customers with any additional benefits or savings. Just like the Comcast-Time Warner merger, this deal would do nothing but reduce competition and limit the sources of information to consumers. And, just like that deal, we need to keep up the pressure and keep the Charter-Time Warner deal from getting approved.
We know that those at the top get more of the profits and more of the tax breaks. Now, we learn that they also get more of the new apartment construction. According to a recent article over at the ThinkProgress blog, four out of every five new multifamily rentals built between 2012 and 2014 were luxury apartments. And, the percentage is even higher in some communities. Despite the fact that fewer and fewer Americans are able to qualify or afford to purchase a home, it’s getting harder, and more expensive, to find rental housing. A 2014 analysis found that the average resident couldn’t afford the average rent in 90 different American cities, yet developers are building more expensive apartments. And, to make matters worse, Republicans in Congress want to cut the funding for affordable housing development. Millions of Americans are priced out of the housing market, and they need rental housing that they can afford. While developers have every right to make a profit, it’s time for Congress to step in and fund more apartments that aren’t built exclusively for the 1%.
And finally… While some of us continue to fight with our insurance companies, the New York State Assembly wants to make health care a right for every citizen. Last week, that body voted to approve a “Medicare for all” single-payer health system that guarantees coverage to everyone – without a fight. That bill passed 89 to 47 in the Assembly, but it isn’t going in to law just yet. The measure isn’t likely to be approved by the state Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans. New York Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried introduced the bill, as he has every year since 1992. In a statement about the legislation, Gottfried said, “New Yorkers deserve better. We should be able to go to the doctor when we need to, without worrying whether we can afford it.” He added, “We should choose our doctors and hospitals without worrying about network restrictions. We deserve health coverage for all of us, paid for based on our ability to pay, not what the market will bear.” And he is exactly right. Hopefully the State Senate will come to their senses and approve the measure, and New York will lead our nation on a path towards national healthcare.
And that’s the way it is – for the week of June 1, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.
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