On the News With Thom Hartmann: New Rule Change in the House Centers on Failed Policies of Reaganomics, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Republicans know that trickle-down economics is no longer an easy sell, so they’ve wrapped up those bad policies into a new package; according to officials at the Federal Communications Commission, by next month, we may finally have an ruling on net neutrality; it only took a few hours after being sworn in to the 114th Congress for Republicans to launch an attack on Social Security; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

TRANSCRIPT:

Jim Javinsky here – in for Thom Hartmann – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News…

You need to know this. Republicans know that trickle-down economics is no longer an easy sell, so they’ve wrapped up those bad policies into a new package. Last week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a rule that requires macroeconomic scoring of all major fiscal legislation through a process called “Dynamic Scoring.” Now, that may sound innocent enough, but, that’s only until you consider that this whole practice centers on the failed economic policies of Ronald Reagan. According to this new rule change, any changes to the budget or tax policy must be scored based on how they effect our economy and government revenue. However, those scores will be generated using the long-debunked premise that lowering taxes somehow increases government revenue. Even though we have thirty-plus years of evidence that clearly disproves this nonsensical economic policy, Republicans decided to use it as the basis for every major decision concerning our fiscal policy. As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explained recently, “Dynamic scoring would make it easier to enact tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, because the tax cuts wouldn’t look as if they increased the budget deficit…” It doesn’t take an economic expert to understand that tax cuts lower government revenue. And, it doesn’t take a historian to remember what happened after George W. Bush slashed rates for those at the top. Tax cuts for the rich don’t stimulate our economy, and this flawed logic shouldn’t be used to make economic decisions. As Senator Bernie Sanders said, “In these difficult times, we need realistic economic projections, not discredited theories, not voodoo economics.” Call your Representatives today and tell them to reverse the dynamic scoring rule change.

According to officials at the Federal Communications Commission, by next month, we may finally have an ruling on net neutrality. That agency has been considering new rules for internet providers since the DC Circuit Court struck down the FCC’s previous net neutrality regulations last January. That court ruled that the FCC could not regulate internet providers like utility companies because the agency had exempted providers from so-called “common carrier” status. Net neutrality activists have been calling on the FCC to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, which would prevent them from creating fast and slow lanes on the internet based on customers’ or content providers’ ability to pay. However, many industry lobbyists and Republican lawmakers have been pushing back against such regulations, claiming rules would stifle innovation. Originally, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler appeared to side with the industry, but intense public pressure has made tougher regulations more likely. We may be only weeks away from finding out whether internet freedom won out over corporate power… hopefully our voices were heard.

It only took a few hours after being sworn in to the 114th Congress for Republicans to launch an attack on Social Security. Last Tuesday, when the House of Representatives laid out their parliamentary rules for 2015, they slipped in a sneaky, little provision to block a stopgap measure that would have prevented big cuts to disability benefits in 2016. The Social Security Administration has projected that the disability insurance program will run out of money next year, but Republicans would rather cut benefits by 20% than allow money to be shifted from the retirement program to cover the shortage. Since 1950, Congress has shifted funds into the disability insurance program 11 times, and it has never been seen as controversial to take care of our disabled citizens. Of course, Republicans are trying to sell this provision as a way to “encourage much-needed reform,” but that’s just another way of saying that it’s a way to tinker with this important program. It only took a day for House Republicans to screw the disabled. Who knows what else they’ll be able to destroy over the next two years…

Back before the 2012 election, David Siegel, the chief officer of Westgate Resorts, made national news when he got caught warning employees that electing Obama could “threaten your job.” Less than two years later however, those workers are getting a raise instead of being laid off. Last week, Mr. Siegel informed all his employees that he was raising their minimum wage to $10 dollars an hour this year after “experiencing the best year in our history.” In fact, in the two years since Obama won reelection, Westgate Resorts has been extraordinarily successful. The company purchased a new hotel in Las Vegas, started building a new retail center in Orlando, and bought the Cocoa Beach Pier in Florida. In an interview with the Orlando Business Journal, David Siegel exclaimed that “things have never been better.” Thankfully, he’s sharing a bit of that success with his employees, and hopefully they won’t be fooled by his talking points during the next election.

And finally… Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders announced that he will introduce a massive infrastructure bill to rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges. While Republicans are calling for more cuts, Senator Sanders says that the $1 trillion dollar, multi-year program would begin to chip away at the backlog of much-needed repairs, and it would put an estimated 13 million Americans back to work. As large as this project sounds, it would only put a dent in the $3.6 trillion dollars of repairs that the American Society of Civil Engineers says are necessary to bring our infrastructure up to date. Senator Sanders said, “American once led the world in building and maintaining a nationwide network of safe and reliable bridges and roads.” He added, “Let’s rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Let’s make our country safer and more efficient. Let’s put millions of Americans back to work.” We can help make it happen by calling Congress and telling them to pass Senator Sanders infrastructure plan now.

And that’s the way it is – for the week of January 12, 2015 – I’m Jim Javinsky – in for Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.