Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. There was a Republican rumble in Iowa last night – as Fox so-called News hosted eight Republican candidates for their very own debate which featured not even one single question about the Republican plans to voucherize Medicare, turn Social Security over to Wall Street, and end all support to college students. The debate was filled with heated exchanges mostly about fluff – a fight between Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty – and Newt Gingrich accusing the Fox News moderators of throwing “gotcha” questions at him. It was a race to the bottom on taxes with Herman Cain pledging to cut the corporate tax rate to 25% – and then Rick Santorum immediately pledged to cut the corporate tax rate to zero. But the loudest applause of the night came when Ron Paul said we need to end our wars across the world and mind our own business with regard to Iran. To which Rick “don't Google my name” Santorum responded by saying if Iran gets a nuclear weapon – it would be the end of life as we know it. Meanwhile – Mitt Romney played the role of the front-runner – stayed above the fray – refusing to engage anyone else on the stage – and instead focusing on Barack Obama the entire night. Although with Texas Governor Rick Perry likely jumping in the race tomorrow – Mitt may need to watch his back. Perry is a Texan – uses prayer as a policy tool – pollutes more than any other governor – and has executed more people than any other governor in modern history. Republicans may have just found their man.
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The war on labor moves to the Post Office. The cash-strapped United States Postal Service is considering a plan to break union contracts with its employees – kick 600,000 workers and 480,000 pensioners off the federal health insurance program – and lay off 20% of its workforce. The USPS released a statement on the plan saying, “Exceptional circumstances require exceptional remedies.” The plan would require approval from Congress before taking effect – something the Republicans who hate labor unions and government services – would be giddy to sign on to. The United Stats Postal Service is as old as the nation itself – it's in the Constitution, andh Benjamin Franklin was the very first Postmaster General. But don’t expect Republicans to get too sentimental as they plot to sell of this great American institution to UPS.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Child poverty is plaguing the nation. A new report by the organization “State of America’s Children” shows that child poverty jumped 10% between 2008 and 2009 – the largest uptick in the history of this data. 1 in 5 children live in Poverty in America today – and although we are the wealthiest nation on the planet – of the other 24 most developed nations in the world – we rank dead last in child poverty. Overall – there are 46 million Americans living in poverty – a number that’s inexcusable – and a direct result of 30 years of trickle-down economics that’s turned us into a nation of peons. The great tax-cuts experiment is over – it’s failed – let roll back the Reagan tax cuts.
Mrs. Warren goes to Washington. Several sources within the Democratic Party are saying consumer protection advocate Elizabeth Warren is gearing up for a 2012 Senate run. After being passed up by the Obama Administration to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the agency she built from scratch – Warren is looking for another role to be an effective advocate for the middle class – like taking out Scott Brown and becoming the next United States Senator from Massachusetts. Warren will reportedly spend the next few weeks traveling the state – speaking with party leaders and constituents – before making an announcement sometime after Labor Day. I think she’d make a great Senator.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into possible allegations of insider trading at S&P. The SEC wants to know who within the credit rating agency was aware of the pending US credit downgrade – and profited off it by short-selling the market. Meanwhile –S&P confirmed what we all suspected – the credit downgrade was indeed a Tea Party downgrade. In an interview with Politico – a senior director at S&P said one reason for the downgrade was that, “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default…that a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable. This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA [nations].” That means if your retirement has taken a hit on Wall Street this week – thank the Tea Party.
The Pentagon test-launched an expensive, new hypersonic weapon yesterday capable of hitting any target in the world in less than one hour – and then promptly lost it. The $320 million Falcon Hypersonic Test Vehicle – capable of flying 13,000 miles an hour through the Earth’s atmosphere – launched from California – then likely crashed into the Pacific Ocean when the Pentagon lost contact. It was the second time this weapon's design has been tested – and the second failure. Here’s an idea – why don’t we spend billions building stuff we know how to build – like rail lines and schools – rather than costly experimental weapons that have little practical benefit.
Crazy Alert! Homesick? Late Wednesday night – a prison guard noticed 48-year-old Marvin Ussery climbing the 7-foot, barbed-wire-covered fence around New Folsom Prison in Sacramento. But the prison guard wasn’t witnessing Ussery trying to break OUT of prison – he watched Ussery trying to break INTO prison. That’s right – Ussery – who had previously served a stint at the prison back in 2009 – seemed pretty eager to see the old cell again – when guards asked what he was doing on prison grounds – Ussery responded, “reminiscing.” Combine this story with the story of Richard Verone who stole one dollar from a bank a few months ago just so he could get arrested and thrown in jail to receive health care – it looks like people are resorting to all sorts of desperate measures to escape the bad Republican economy.
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, August 12th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.