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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Negotiations to Extend the Payroll Tax Cut Have Once Again Stalled Out, and More


Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann here – on the news….

You need to know this. There are bad nights, then there are REALLY bad nights, and then there are nights like the one Mitt Romney had last night. Three states held caucuses and primaries Tuesday night to pick a Republican nominee for President – including Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota – and it was a clean sweep for Rick Santorum. In Missouri – Santorum got 55% of the vote with Romney coming in second at 25% – oddly though there were no delegates at stake. In Minnesota – Santorum cleaned up with 45% of the vote – while Romney came in third behind Ron Paul with 17%. And later in the night – in Colorado – a state Romney expected to win and DID win in 2008 – Santorum came out on top – beating Romney 40 to 35%. So what does this mean? It means Conservatives can still play around with the idea of nominating someone who isn’t named Mitt Romney for at least a few more weeks. But the millionaires and billionaires have decided Mitt Romney is their guy – and thanks to Citizens United – they can speak louder than anyone else in the country so it would be shocking if Mitt weren’t the guy on stage accepting the nomination later in the year down in Tampa.

It was a good day for equal rights in America. A Federal Appeals court struck down California's Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage, ruling that the Constitutional Amendment passed by voters in 2008 violated the due process and equal protection clause of the Constitution. As Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the majority opinion, “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.” In response to Judge Reinhardt’s eloquent defense of the majority ruling – Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich blasted the decision – calling for it to be ultimately decided in the Supreme Court. In a few years – it will be very clear who’s on the wrong side of history on this issue.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Negotiations on Capitol Hill to extend the payroll tax cut for working Americans have once again stalled out. The current payroll tax cut extension expires at the end of the month – and would lead to 160 million Americans being hit with a tax increase if lawmakers can’t come up with a deal. The sticking point in the debate is how to pay for the tax cut – something Republicans never demanded when the issue was whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires in 2010. Republicans want to cut spending elsewhere in the budget – while Democrats want a small surtax placed on people who make more than a million bucks to offset the costs. But since nearly every single Republicans has signed a pledge with millionaire lobbyist Grover Norquist to oppose any tax increase – they aren’t budging. So when it comes to either helping the economy by giving 160 million Americans a little more money in their pockets or helping the 1% keep their extraordinarily low tax rates – Republicans side with the 1% every single time.

The Keystone XL pipeline is back. The House Energy and Commerce Committee revived the pipeline yesterday passing legislation that will force the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reject the President’s decision and approve the pipeline. That legislation will now likely be attached to an infrastructure spending bill expected to be voted on next week. In other words – with our nation’s infrastructure crumbling – and with Americans in desperate need of construction jobs – Republicans plan to hold hostage legislation to rebuild the country demanding that Texas oil barons get what they want first – the Keystone XL pipeline. Meanwhile a lawsuit is working its way to the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that the company that wants to build the pipeline lied and overinflated how many jobs would be created in building the pipeline.

Arizona continued their war on Hispanics – this time with the help of the state Supreme Court. On Tuesday – the state’s high court ruled it was indeed legal for a city council candidate to be kept off the ballot due to her lack of proficiency in the English language. Alejandrina Cabrera was running for city council in the town of San Luis – which is on the Mexican border and predominately Spanish speaking – when she was kicked off the ballot by a local judge who ruled that she couldn’t perform her job since she didn’t speak English all that well. Cabrera’s lawyer said they’d like to appeal the ruling – but don’t have enough money to do so. Between immigration laws, scrapping of Hispanic culture classes in school, and now this – Arizona is sending a clear message to non-Whites in the state – you’re not welcome.

If you’re top job in Tennessee is enforcing marijuana laws – then it appears you can smoke all the marijuana you want yourself. That’s the case with the director of Tennessee’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which also plays a key role in marijuana law enforcement. When police went to the director Danielle Elks’ home last year to inform her that her husband had been killed in a car accident they found marijuana on her kitchen table – coincidentally right next to a Marijuana Eradication Task Force sticker. But rather than pressing charges – or even seizing the marijuana – police just let it slide – perhaps showing compassion for a woman who just lost her husband. Unfortunately – the same compassion isn’t afforded to the millions of other Americans who get busted for the exact same crime and have their lives ruined as a result – especially in Tennessee where just a gram of marijuana can lead to a year-long prison sentence. As this case highlights – marijuana laws are hypocritical and cost taxpayers way too much money. Time to end Nixon’s failed war on drugs – and accept marijuana for what it really is – an effective medicine – and harmless recreational drug.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, February 8th, 2012. I’m Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann on the news.

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