On the News With Thom Hartmann: Obama Pressing to Close Tax Loopholes for Corporations and Billionaires, and More


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. In a brief statement yesterday – President Obama squashed the idea of a short-term debt-limit increase – killing Republican hopes to kick the can down the road into an election year when Republicans would have even more leverage. He then called for another meeting later this week with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to reach a long-term debt-limit deal. The deal President Obama is pushing for includes closing tax loopholes on corporations and millionaires and billionaires in exchange for trillions of dollars in spending cuts targeting mostly working class families – a deal that Conservative columnist David Brooks referred to earlier this week as “the mother of all no-brainers” for Republicans. But the Republican “Party of No” – isn’t interested in making deals – it’s interested in crashing the economy. Speaker John Boehner immediately threw cold war on the President’s message yesterday – saying that bipartisan talks are “fruitless” if even a nickel of tax increases on corporations, millionaires like him, or billionaires is on the table. Republicans figure if they can just hold out for a few more weeks and force the nation into default and crash the economy – they will see big gains at the polls next year when voters link the Depression economy to the President’s failures. Not only that – House Majority Eric Cantor will receive a fat dividend check from his investment bet that the US dollar will lose value in the event of an economic collapse in America. And these guys call themselves patriots??

How do Ohio Republicans plan to stay in power now that voters have rejected their agenda? By making sure those voters can’t vote in the next election. Last week – the Republican-controlled statehouse passed an election-reform bill that weakens a law requiring poll workers to help voters find the right precinct to vote in. The bill did not include a highly restrictive voter ID law that some other Republican-managed states have passed to keep mostly Democratic voters from the polls – but by no longer requiring poll workers to direct voters to the right precinct – a number of votes will be lost in the next election. In 2008 – over 14,000 votes were not counted because they were cast in the wrong precinct – and for some reason – Republicans don’t want to solve this problem. In fact – they want to make it worse. As Republican strategist – Paul Weyrich – let slip a few years back – the Republican Party doesn’t want people to vote because as the popular vote goes down – Republicans chances of winning go up. Will someone kindly remind the Republicans we still live in a democracy – and one-Party corporate rule is not what our Founding Fathers intended?

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In the best of the rest of the news…

While Republicans plug their ears and hum to themselves at the debt-limit negotiating table – research from the Center for Tax Justice proves the Republican outrage over closing corporate tax loopholes is all smoke and mirrors. As much as Republicans like to argue the United States forces corporations to pay some of the highest taxes in the world…it’s simply not true. Looking at numbers from the OECD – the Tax Justice Center discovered that US corporations ACTUALLY pay the second-lowest taxes in the developed world. 24 other developed nations including Slovenia, Turkey and Austria have higher corporate tax rates than the United States. And as far as total taxes go – Americans pay the third lowest in the developed world. Republicans are entitled to their own opinions – but they’re not entitled to their own facts. But I guess when you’re only agenda is to look out for millionaires and billionaires – then you have to fudge the facts a little to sell your Party to the other 99% of us who aren’t worth a million bucks.

Is the United States heading down the same road as Iran? A group of law professors fear so – and they penned a letter to Congress to raise their concerns over a piece of legislation that gives the government power to take websites offline – censor search engines – and essentially break down the internet. The legislation known as the “Protect IP Act” – is the creature of the entertainment lobby and is meant to curb online privacy by forcing Internet Service Providers to take certain websites offline if they are suspected of copyright infringement. But here’s the kicker – whether or not those sites are ACTUALLY engaging in copyright infringement doesn’t need to be proven by a third-party or a court – it’s strictly up to the whims of the entertainment industry. In other words – if they don’t like you – you’re shut down. That – as the group of law professors points out – would “undermine” the U.S. claim to a free and open Internet and, “would incorporate into U.S. law…a principle more closely associated with…repressive regimes.” Currently – the Protect IP Act is held up in the Senate by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. Let’s hope it stays there.

Stay out of the city of Alto. In yet another sign that Texas Governor Rick Perry’s governing philosophy is disastrous – a small Texas town was forced to lay off its ENTIRE police force in order to fill budget gaps. The city of Alto is facing a nearly $200,000 budget deficit – and is closing it by laying off the police because as one councilman notes, “We had to do something drastic… The police department being a non-money-making entity, was the easiest to get rid of while we catch our breath and build up some cash.” I didn’t realize police departments were supposed to generate revenue. Now when residents call 9-1-1 – they have to wait up to 15 minutes for a county sheriff deputy to respond. All around the country – cities are being stripped to the bone of critical services. The Bush Great Depression rolls on.

And finally…yesterday – 12 jurors in Florida found Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering her daughter. With it’s twists and turns – the trial gained nationwide notoriety – and dominated mainstream news reports for the better part of 3 years. Many were shocked by the verdict – as Anthony’s guilt was a foregone conclusion in most of the media. So not only does this case remind us of just how our legal system works – that it’s up to 12 jurors and not a team of TV pundits to determine guilt or innocence – but this case also highlighted the perversion of our most basic legal tenant – that we are innocent until proven guilty. It’s a strong legal system that keeps our nation from descending into chaos like Somalia. Let’s not erode it with Murdoch-style sensationalized infotainment. Instead, we should consider the old Canadian system of only reporting on crimes after convictions have been made, and never naming an accused in the media.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, July 6th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.