Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. January was a good month for SuperPACs. Looking at the Republican race for President – SuperPACs raised more money in January than did the actual candidates. Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul – raised a total of $21 million in January – but their SuperPACs raised $22 million. This is further evidence that Americans are no hearing a sales pitch from politicians – they’re hearing from the billionaires who own the politicians. Speaking of those special interests – the odds are increasing that they'll have the final say on who the nominee is at the Republican convention later this year. A new Quinnipiac poll has Governor Chris Christie as the first choice for Republicans if no current candidate wins enough delegates – forcing Republicans to hold a brokered convention. Bring back the smoke-filled rooms – here's a news flash for Republican primary voters: Your votes don't matter.
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American homeowners are still getting screwed. Even though the $26 billion mortgage settlement deal was intended to go straight to helping homeowners stay in their homes – states like Missouri and Wisconsin have announced plans to redirect that money toward closing budget loopholes in their state governments. Now Ohio is the latest Republican-run state to say it will not use settlement funds to help homeowners. Ohio is set to receive $97 million under the settlement – and plans to use $75 million from it to bulldozed vacant and foreclosed homes. So instead of using the money to KEEP people in their homes – Ohio is using it to demolish homes. Even worse – this is another secret bailout for the banks that supposedly own the abandoned homes and are thus in charge of their upkeep or demolition. The farther and farther removed we get form this settlement deal – the more and more it looks like a bad deal for homeowners – and another sweet deal for Wall Street.
In the best of the rest of the news…
President Obama is set to unveil his plan to overhaul the corporate tax code. Although corporations in the United States effectively pay the fewest taxes in the developed world – the President is proposing lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% down to 28% – with a special 25% rate for manufacturers. In return – the President wants to close several loopholes and tax subsides that corporations currently enjoy – like loopholes that give corporations tax breaks for shipping Americans jobs overseas. The lower tax rates and the closing of loopholes will offset each other – meaning the plan will not lead to any increase in revenue for the federal government. Of course this overhaul plan does have to get through Congress – where 30 corporations in the Fortune 500 have spent more money on lobbying than in paying taxes.
Last year was a bad year for journalists. According to the “Committee to Protect Journalist” – which just released its annual report on violence against journalists – at least 46 journalists were killed in 2011 – and photographers and camera operators were killed at rates double the historic average. In addition – the number of journalists imprisoned around the world reached a 15-year high in 2011. The United States threw its share of journalists in jail as part of its crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street Movement last year. The repression of journalism right now is no coincidence. As the backlash against corporate power and globalization moves ahead – the powers-that-be are desperately trying to control the flow of information – which means squashing independent journalists – and propping up corporate media infotainment.
The Republican Party claims to represent religious America. But when it comes to healthcare – the two couldn’t be farther apart. As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear arguments on Obamacare – a broad coalition of religious groups in America filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the high court in support of Obamacare. From Methodists to Presbyterians to Catholics – several different denominations are represented in the brief – putting them at odds with nearly every single Republican in Congress and on the campaign trail who have vowed to repeal the President’ health reform law. Considering that the bible calls for the weak and needy to be rescued – and the Pope recently declared healthcare was a “inalienable right” – it’s no surprise that religious organizations are lining up in favor of Obamacare. What is surprising – and tragic – is that Republicans would rather let sick Americans die than give President Obama a legislative victory.
Don’t believe the gun lobby – President Obama has been oh-so-good to gun owners in America. At least that’s what the gun sales website Ammo.net is saying, which recently ran a headline reading: “the greatest gun salesman in America: President Barack Obama.” Despite the NRA and other pro-Second Amendment groups railing against the President and spreading conspiracies that the President will confiscate all guns – Ammo.net points out that firearm sales have hit all-time highs since the President took office and asks, “therefore, should the firearms industry support President Obama for a second term or not?” For many progressives – President Obama has been disappointing when it comes to gun reforms – especially after a mentally-challenged college student was able to buy a gun with a high-capacity magazine and shoot Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in the head and kill six other people in Tucson last year. It’s time to stop listening to the lies coming from the gun nuts – and put in place some common sense gun reforms.
And finally…the Occupy Movement has another big day of action in the works for the end of February – this one to target the Koch brothers-funded right-wing think-tank known as the American Legislative Exchange Council – or ALEC. Responsible for writing a slew of far right legislation – from anti-immigration bills in Arizona to anti-union bills in Wisconsin to anti-voting bills across the nation – ALEC is the poster-child for corrupt corporate influence in our government. Led by Occupy Portland – the day of action is scheduled for February 29th – and will target corporations that are members of ALEC. Just the fact that ALEC is on the radar now is a small victory –- the organization has been in the shadows since the 1970’s, all the while inflicting corporate friendly laws on us.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.