In today’s On the News segment: Obama is proposing $1.6 trillion in new revenue from letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the top 2 percent wealthiest Americans; support for repealing Obama’s health care is now at an all-time low; dozens of Walmart warehouse workers in Mira Loma, California are walking off the job in the latest strike against the corporation; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news …
You need to know this. After meeting with labor leaders in the White House on Tuesday, President Obama is putting forward a big number when it comes to raising revenue ahead of “fiscal cliff” negotiations. The White House is proposing $1.6 trillion in new revenue from letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the top 2% wealthiest Americans and closing deduction and loopholes. That’s nearly half of all the savings expected to come from $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years that the President is proposing in his new budget. It’s also double what Speaker of the House John Boehner floated during negotiations last year. But it shows the President is finally going to the negotiating table with a big offer rather than an already compromised offer. He’s also talking tough – telling labor leaders on Tuesday that he’s “not going to budge” on letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire. On Friday, the president will meet with Congressional Republicans to begin negotiations. Still, there are valid concerns that Medicare and Social Security could be put on the chopping block during these negotiations. Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen hinted that Democrats are open to the idea of raising the eligibility age of Medicare and slowing cost-of-living increases with Social Security as long as it’s part of a “balanced deal.” Last time I checked, Democrats won big in last week’s election – and still control the White House and the Senate on behalf of the voters. House Democratic candidates also won a half-million more Congressional votes than House Republican candidates. That looks like a mandate to me – meaning Americans don’t want a “balanced” approach – they want a progressive approach.
In screwed news … Corporations get their chance to meet with the President today in the White House to talk about the fiscal cliff. CEOs from America’s top outsourcing, union-busting, and tax-dodging corporations like General Electric, Honeywell, and Walmart are all expected to be in attendance. However, some of these corporations have already launched a campaign to convince lawmakers to give them huge tax breaks during fiscal cliff negotiations. Sixty-three CEOs representing the nation’s largest corporations – including GE – are calling for a “territorial” tax system that will benefit corporations that offshore jobs and stash their profits overseas. According to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies – this new tax system would translate to $134 billion in new profits for these same corporations, with GE alone potentially saving more than $35 billion. Currently – corporations can defer tax payment on profits owned overseas to the future when they bring that money home. Under this new plan, corporations will never, ever have to pay taxes on those overseas profits. The President shouldn’t waste this opportunity at the White House to remind the CEOs exactly who they should thank for their success – and that is their workers and their country. An educated workforce, roads and bridges to transport goods, a court system to enforce contracts, and the rules of the marketplace all allow businesses to be profitable in America – and are all paid for by taxes – taxes that corporations haven’t been paying their fair share of.
In the best of the rest of the news …
Republicans have lost the battle over Obamacare. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows support for repealing Obamacare now at an all-time low. But don’t tell Republicans in Wisconsin that. Nine Tea Party state lawmakers in Wisconsin are pushing a bill that would make it illegal to implement any provisions of Obamacare, and would even arrest any federal officials who attempt to do just that. As one Republican lawmaker – Chris Kapenga – said, “Just because Obama was re-elected does not mean he’s above the constitution.” Clearly Kapenga was drunk or asleep when, earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare was, indeed, constitutional. Thanks to Obamacare, tens of millions of Americans will have access to healthcare under the law – and another 100 million Americans will no longer have to live in fear of being denied healthcare due to pre-existing conditions. And Republicans think people should be thrown in jail for implementing it!
All of Europe is on strike today. Workers are taking to the streets in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy to protest the relentless austerity measures being shoved down their throats by Conservative technocrats. In Spain, where austerity has pushed the unemployment rate to a European high of 25%, major trade unions walked off the job, grounding flights and grinding public transportation to a halt. Similar labor actions took place in Greece, where Parliament recently passed another new round of austerity measures. Even in France – where Socialist President Francois Hollande has attempted to mix more pro-growth policies in with austerity – more than 130 demonstrations are planned for today by labor unions that argue austerity policies, “threaten the European social model.” This the first time since the start of the Eurozone debt crisis several years ago that we’ve seen labor organizing across borders to bring about continent-wide protests against austerity. This could be the turning point when the power of organized people finally overcomes the power of organized banksters.
Speaking of strikes … another Walmart workers’ strike is looming. Today – dozens of Walmart warehouse workers in Mira Loma, California are walking off the job to protest unsafe working conditions and retaliation by management. This is the latest walk-out in a string of labor disruptions at Walmart supply warehouses and retail outlets since September. Workers are hoping this latest strike spreads to other Walmart suppliers and retail outlets ahead of the busiest shopping day of the year next week: Black Friday. In Walmart’s fifty year history – not a single store in the United States has succeeded in forming a union. Then again, never in the retail giant’s fifty year history have workers been walking off the job en masse as we’ve seen in recent months. And with Black Friday looming and Walmart workers receiving support from nationwide organization like Occupy and the National Organization of Women, then this could be a shopping day to remember – and the beginning of organized labor’s comeback. Stay tuned.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, November 14, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.