In today’s On the News segment: More Americans believe in ghosts than believe the Supreme Court was right in the Citizens United ruling, 76 people were arrested for demonstrating outside Congressman Paul Ryan’s Capitol Hill office yesterday, the UK is officially in a second recession, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
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You need to know this. The U.K. is officially in a second recession as the British economy shrank for the second straight quarter. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron whose government has been pushing trickle-down austerity for nearly the last two years called the new economic numbers, “very, very disappointing.” The U.K. joins the long list of other European nations that have pursued trickle-down austerity and watched their economies tank – like Greece, Italy, and Spain. Meanwhile in France – Conservative President Nicholas Sarkozy is desperately trying to keep his job against Socialist Francois Hollande who’s running on an anti-austerity, pro-growth platform. And in the Netherlands, the Dutch Government is in limbo after it caved to grass-roots pressure and failed to pass its own austerity budget. Over the last year – we’ve seen the devastating consequences of trickle-down austerity – the job layoffs, the riots, and the suicides. And now – the politicians, banksters, and technocrats pushing trickle-down austerity in Europe are feeling the political backlash from their angry populations. Meanwhile – multi-millionaires Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are pushing the same sort of trickle-down austerity here in the US – hoping we won’t notice the economic consequences on full display across the Atlantic.
Screwed by an enormous burden of debt, students around the nation are rallying today and calling for a student loan debt jubilee. The total amount of outstanding student loan debt has now topped one trillion dollars – outweighing credit card debt and automobile debt for the first time ever. The Occupy Movement is leading the rallies today – calling for students across the nation to come together and pledge to not repay their student loans – pressuring lawmakers and banksters to have to eventually forgive the massive debts. To make matters worse for students – the interest rate for federal student loans is scheduled to double in July if Congress doesn’t act. President Obama appeared on Late Night TV to urge Congress to act quickly to provide relief for students, but Republicans so far aren’t budging. Of course the easiest way to fix this problem is to do what most of the world’s other developed nations do – define higher education as a basic right and send their young people to college for free.
In the best of the rest of the news…
On Tuesday, 76 people – including actor Noah Wyle – were arrested for demonstrating outside Congressman Paul Ryan’s Capitol Hill office. The demonstration was organized by the group Disabilities for Attendant Programs Today – which is trying to raise awareness about the devastating impacts of the Paul Ryan’s trickle-down Republican budget on state Medicaid programs. The Ryan budget gives $3 trillion in tax cuts to billionaires and pays for it by radically cutting Medicaid funding over the next ten years – cutting federal healthcare money to treat the working poor and disabled people by over a third. The Urban Institute estimated that the Republican cuts would lead to 27 million poor, disabled, and elderly Americans losing their Medicaid health insurance coverage over the next decade. This meat-axe Republicans want to take to the nation’s social safety net only does one thing – free up funds for a $3 trillion tax cut for the Koch Brothers, Mitt Romney, and the rest of our nation’s oligarchs. Progressives need to hang the Ryan budget around the necks of all the Republicans who voted for it – so that voters know who’s looking out for the billionaires and who’s looking out for the rest of us.
First corporations and now people are fleeing the American Legislative Exchange Council. Following the success of a boycott campaign against ALEC that led to more than a dozen corporate members to leave the Koch-brother funded think tank that writes corporate-friendly legislation, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee is targeting Democratic state lawmakers who also happen to be members of ALEC. As the organization said in an email to supporters, “Bad Democrats allow ALEC to claim ‘bipartisan’ support for extreme policies, and that’s unacceptable.” According to some counts – there are 26 Democrats who are members of ALEC – and already – some of them are bowing to pressure and dropping out, including New Mexico state Senator George Munoz and South Carolina state Representative Ted Vick. Americans have figured out that ALEC is a laundering operation for corporations to write our laws. And the only way to end that corruption of our democracy is to keep up the pressure on the members and funders of this right-wing front-group until it stops trying to destroy our democracy.
The Democratic Party might get a little more progressive. Two Blue Dog Democrats lost their primaries last night to more progressive Democrats. Blue Dog Pennsylvania Representative Tim Holden – who found himself in a more progressive district after redistricting – lost to challenger Matt Cartwright. And also in Pennsylvania – Blue Dog Representative Jason Altmire lost to fellow incumbent Mark Critz after both Democrats had their districts redrawn into one. As Harry Truman said sixty years ago – the nation doesn’t want any more “phony Democrats.”
While war hawks on Fox so-called News beat the drum to war with Iran – one of Israel’s top military chiefs is urging everyone to tone it down. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz said that Iran still hasn’t begun to develop a nuclear weapon and doesn’t think Iran will decide to do so in the near future. Gantz said that the Iranian leadership is made up of “very rational people” who wouldn’t want to build a bomb that might spark a conflict. Gantz also said that sanctions against Iran are “starting to bear fruit,” despite previous concerns in Israel and the United States that such sanctions wouldn’t work.
And finally – a new survey by the Brennan Center for Justice shows just how out of touch the five right-wingers on the Supreme Court are. According to the survey – 69% of Americans reject the Supreme Court’s hard-right argument that unlimited corporate spending in our elections won’t lead to corruption. On the other hand, only 15% of Americans believe the Supreme Court ruled correctly in its Citizen’s United case. To put that in perspective – 34% of Americans believe in ghosts, 23% have actually seen a ghost, and 19% believe in witchcraft. That’s right – more Americans believe in witchcraft and ghosts than believe the Supreme Court was right with their Citizens United decision.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, April 25, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.