In today’s On the News segment: On Tuesday, President Obama spoke at length about the looming debt limit deadline and the ongoing government shutdown; Republicans have launched their latest plan to steal our elections – two-tier voting; a new nonpartisan group is calling for a carbon tax; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. On Tuesday, President Obama spoke at length about the looming debt limit deadline and the ongoing government shutdown. Using some of his strongest language yet, the President said, “We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy.” Once again, President Obama declared that he is “not budging” in the fight for a clean debt limit increase, and said that the Treasury Department does not have a “magic bullet” to avoid default if our borrowing limit is not raised. The President promised to sit down and talk with Republicans, but said that a conversation “shouldn’t require hanging the threats of a government shutdown or economic chaos over the heads of the American People.” According to the White House, President Obama spoke to Speaker Boehner on Tuesday morning, and reiterated that he is willing to negotiate “after the threat of government shutdown and default has been removed.” Once the debt ceiling is raised and the government shutdown is over, the President said he will consider policies that Republicans believe would strengthen our nation, like “policies that expand economic opportunity, support private sector job creation, enhance the competitiveness of American businesses, strengthen the Affordable Care Act, and continue to reduce our nation’s deficit.” Of course, shortly after the President’s speech, House Speaker John Boehner whined to reporters that the president wanted an “unconditional surrender” from Republicans, and said he was “disappointed that the president refuses to negotiate.” To avoid an economic disaster, one side must back down from this dangerous game of chicken, and the majority of the American people believe that it’s past time for Republicans to give up their list of demands.
In screwed news… Republicans have launched their latest plan to steal our elections – two-tier voting. Lawmakers in Kansas and Arizona have announced that people who did not provide proof of citizenship while registering to vote will only be allowed to vote in federal elections. Only voters who registered with a citizenship document will be able to cast a ballot in state and local races. The questionable logic behind this decision came from Kansas State Election Director Brad Bryant, who laid out his argument in an email to county election officials. Mr. Bryant wrote, “As the Supreme Court made clear, its decision applies only to ‘federal registration forms’ and covers only federal elections. States remain free to require proof of citizenship from voters who seek to also vote in state elections.” In response, Kansas state Rep. Jim Ward said, “It’s very frustrating to watch a public official go about voter suppression under the color of law.” It’s unclear if the new voting rules can be challenged and overturned before the 2014 elections, but voters in these states are hoping that Attorney General Eric Holder steps in to protect their right to vote.
In the best of the rest of the news…
A new nonpartisan group is calling for a carbon tax. The New Jersey-based group US Strong, which is focused on building support for extreme weather relief and protection, says that a carbon tax should be instituted to cover the cost of storm damage and preparation. Curtis Fisher, the group’s national campaign director, said, “We all know that no politician likes to talk about finding new revenue streams, but we know when you’re looking at the impact of Sandy that we should no be raising property taxes and income tax and sales tax.” Essentially, US Strong is making the case that the huge corporations pumping toxins into our environment should be responsible for paying for the damage that they cause. And, some lawmakers are throwing their support behind this idea. New Jersey Sate Senator Robert Singer said that disaster victims shouldn’t “have to wait and put themselves at the mercy of some congressman or senator saying ‘I don’t really think I have to do it because it doesn’t affect my constituency.'” Supporters of the plan say it’s time for the polluters, not taxpayers, to cover the cost of these disasters.
On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders railed against the influence of billionaires like the Koch Brothers. After the Supreme Court heard arguments in McCuthcheon v. FEC, the case that could lead to even more money in our political system, Sen. Sanders gave a barn-burner of a speech outside the courthouse. Senator Sanders said that since Citizens United, the House of Representatives is controlled by “a handful of billionaires [who] can threaten any member of the House with defeat by pouring unlimited sums of money if they vote in a way that the Koch brother do not like.” He said that the fight against Obamacare is “just the tip of the iceberg” of the right-wing agenda, and that the billionaires behind Republican lawmakers want to roll back Social Security, end minimum wage laws, and slash other social programs. But, he offered a solution, saying, “We have got to do everything that we can to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision so that a handful of billionaires cannot dictate public policy.” And we can start by going to MoveToAmend.org.
And finally… When Christi Smith saved a pitbull from the pound, she never imagined that TaterTot would return the favor. Just days after bringing him home, the puppy saved the life of Christi’s 4-year old son. The boy, Peyton, had an extreme drop in blood sugar in the middle of the night, and was dangerous close to dying. TaterTot recognized the boy was in danger, and began barking and running between the boy and his mother. Christi went to her son and found Peyton was barely breathing. She rushed him to the emergency room, where doctors saved his life. Although Christi only planned to foster TaterTot until she could find him a permanent home, he is now officially a full-time member of the family. She said, “I could have been one of those moms sitting there telling people how I lost my son,” but instead she’s told the story of how her “doggie hero” joined the family.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, October 8, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.