On the News With Thom Hartmann: Obama to Issue One Executive Order a Week to Boost Economy, and More

In today's On the News segment: A Florida high school teacher was slapped with fines for helping students register to vote, Rick Perry has gone birther, a homemade chemical bomb exploded at Occupy Maine, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. President Obama has a new strategy to kick-start the economy – and this one doesn’t need the approval of Republicans in Congress. Beginning this week – the President will unveil one new executive order each week to do things like help struggling homeowners renegotiate their mortgages – help students pay back student loans (which have now topped over one trillion dollars for the first time ever) – and put returning veterans back to work. The “We Can’t Wait” campaign – as it’s being called by the White House – stresses that the economic problems facing this nation need urgent attention and that we can’t wait for solutions to come out of a deadlocked Congress full of Republicans whose election strategy is to make the economy worse. Unfortunately – executive orders normally don’t carry as much punch as actual legislation from Congress – but they can still produce some economic benefits. That stands in stark contrast to the Republicans' plan that – according to Moody’s – will likely push the economy back into a worse recession.

The Occupy Wall Street movement was targeted with terrorism over the weekend. Early Sunday morning – police responded to the Occupy Maine encampment – filled with about three dozen demonstrators – after an explosion was reported in the occupation’s kitchen area. An unidentified individual threw a homemade chemical bomb into the area at about 4a.m. – causing an explosion. Luckily no one was injured – but according to police – the Gatorade container filled with chemicals could have caused serious harm. As Gandhi said – “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” We’ve reached the “then they fight you” stage in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Let’s see if Fox so-called News picks up the story and runs with it – or if they ONLY report on acts of ISLAMIC terrorism.

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In the best of the rest of the news…

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is turning up the heat on filibustering Republicans. Not to be deterred by a unified filibuster of President Obama’s American Jobs Act two weeks ago, followed by another unified filibuster last week of just a single provision in the Jobs Act, Harry Reid will force another vote in the coming weeks on a jobs bill and dare Republicans to filibuster it. This legislation will fund $50 billion worth of infrastructure repairs and construction – to rebuild deteriorating roads, crumbling bridges, decaying railroads. According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood – it will put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work. And the legislation is completely paid for by a .7% surtax on people who make more than a million bucks a year. So we’ll see if Republicans – for a third week – will continue their agenda to crash the economy and side with the billionaires and the 1% – or will actually do something to turn this economy around and help millions of Americans who just want to get back to work. I’m not holding my breath.

The Supercommittee “Gang of 12” is officially up for sale. Politico is reporting that over 200 corporations and special interest groups are lobbying the members of the Gang of 12 who are working on a way to cut about a trillion and a half dollars out of the deficit. Leading the way in the lobbying onslaught is the healthcare industry – followed closely by the defense industry that could take a huge hit if a deal isn’t reached and automatic triggers are pulled that cut hundreds of billions of dollars out of the Pentagon’s budget. The energy industry is also spending money hoping to protect its billions in taxpayer oil subsidies. So if we DO get a deal out of the new “government by gang,” then expect it to be the best deal money can buy.

If you try to register new voters in Florida – you could be slapped with thousands of dollars in fines – as one high school teacher found out the hard way. A new law pushed by Republicans that took effect in the Sunshine state back in July places a slew of burdens on people or groups who register new voters – requiring them to submit paperwork to the state first – and then abide by strict new guidelines on how quickly the voter registration forms have to be returned to the state. The law is so radical that the League of Women Voters has suspended its voter registration drives in the state out of fear that they could be fined too – like high school teacher Jill Cicciarelli, who just wanted to make sure students at her school can engage in our nation’s democracy. The ACLU is challenging the law as unconstitutional. So while Republicans across the country pass strict Voter ID laws to make it HARDER for people to vote – in Florida, they're also passing laws to make it HARDER to register people to vote. The bottom line is that Republicans realize the only way they can win elections is if they can keep poor people, working people, young people, and the elderly away from the polls. Thus their efforts to criminalize voter registration.

From voter suppression to voter empowerment…Tunisia, the nation that kicked off the Arab Spring, took the next step forward, as millions voted over the weekend to elect the nation’s first democratic government in its history. With fingertips dyed blue – Tunisians rejoiced over their newfound self-governance outside peaceful polling stations across the country. This is an example of a democratic revolution in the Arab world NOT triggered by a U.S. military invasion, but instead triggered by inspired people – many of whom likely listened to President Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo when he told Arab people to tear down their dictators. Bush started wars based on lies, and the world rightly condemned us. Obama gave a speech, and the Arab Spring blossomed.

Crazy Alert! Rick Perry’s gone birther. Either he’s looking to capture the birther vote – or he was just enamored after a meeting with the Donald – but struggling Presidential candidate Rick Perry went birther over the weekend in an interview with PARADE magazine. When asked whether or not he believed that the President was born in the United States, Perry said he “didn’t have a definitive answer.” Then he was asked if he thought the birth certificate released by the President earlier this year was real, Perry responded by saying Donald Trump doesn’t think that it’s real and that he personally “[doesn’t] have any idea.” Unlike Trump – who was a birther before it was cool – Rick Perry is arriving to the birther party pretty late – adopting the radical position 6 months after the President squashed it by releasing his birth certificate. Still – Perry did recently receive an endorsement from “birther queen” Orly Taitz. So – while he may not be winning the Republican race to the White House – Rick Perry is definitely winning the race to the crazy house.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, October 24th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news…