Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. In an impassioned speech in Kansas yesterday – President Obama destroyed the idea of “trickle down economics,” saying, “it doesn’t work. It has never worked.” He went on to explain how this idea that “the free market” will fix everything is what actually led to the Great Depression – and what has led us to this point today with our economy in ruins. The President then blasted Republicans who he said are suffering from collective “amnesia” trying to promote the same old bad policies that got us into this mess. Sounding like a member of the Occupy Wall Street movement himself – President Obama targeted the growing wealth inequality problem in America – saying it distorts our democracy and makes the American Dream harder and harder to achieve. So what does this mean? It means the President may finally be listening to what the young people in the streets across America are saying. But as we all know, talk is cheap. The President needs to take what he said in Kansas yesterday – and turn it into real policy and fight for it. Politicians are not leaders – they follow grassroots movement. And now that the 99% Movement has the attention of the President – we need to double our efforts – keep occupying Wall Street, foreclosed homes, and the Capitol – and lead the President into real action to take back American from the greedy banksters – and return it to we the people.
Republicans in the Senate are screwing over anybody with a bank account. A nearly unanimous Republican filibuster is preventing the Senate from confirming former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to lead the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – known as the CFPB. Created in Dodd-Frank, the Wall street reform law passed last year – the CFPB will work on behalf of consumers to make sure they aren’t getting screwed again by the banksters. But the CFPB can’t get off the ground until Senate Republicans approve on someone to lead it. As President Obama said yesterday, “Every day we go without a consumer watchdog in place is another day when a student, or a senior citizen, or a member of our Armed Forces could be tricked into a loan they can’t afford.” Unfortunately – as you’d expect with any law that benefits the 99% over the 1% – Republicans can’t stand it.
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In the best of the rest of the news…
A day of action continues in Washington, DC today. Thousands of patriots will storm the lobbying epicenter of K-Street this afternoon as part of the “Take Back the Capitol” movement spearheaded by community and labor organizations. According to the SEIU, which is one of the main organizers of the rally – the purpose of today’s action is to, “track down those responsible for crashing the economy and causing millions of 99-%-ers to lose their jobs and homes — while failing to pay their fair share of taxes.” In response – K-Street lobbying firms are on lockdown – let’s hope they stay that way.
One day after executives at the Upper Big Branch mine were slapped with a $200 million settlement for their role in the death of 29 miners last year – Republicans are blocking legislation to prevent another mining disaster. Last year – Democrats in the House and Senate introduced critical legislation that is necessary to make mining safer in America. Since then though – the legislation has gone nowhere. The bill increases penalties for safety hazards, broadens whistleblower protections, and gives the federal government the power to close unsafe mines – so, Republicans are blocking it. As the sponsor of the bill – Senator Jay Rockefeller from West Virginia – said, “[we can] hardly get a Republican vote at all.” Call your Member of Congress – especially if he or she is a Republican – and ask why they’re putting corporate profits ahead of American lives.
For the second time in a little over a year in Tennessee – firefighters sat and watched a house burn down. When her house caught fire – Tennessee homeowner Vicky Bell called 9-1-1 – but when firefighters arrived they parked their trucks away from the fire – and just watched the flames consume Vicky’s home. Why? Because Vicky failed to pay the $75 dollar fire subscription fee. That’s a new policy in several communities in Tennessee – called “pay for spray” – homeowners now have to pay an annual fee to receive protection from the fire department – what used to be part of the commons – a free service paid for by all of us through our tax dollars. As the Mayor of the city – David Crocker – said, defending the policy, “There's no way to go to every fire and keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department.” I guess police and fire services will soon be luxuries available to just the top 1%.
Let them eat rat poison! The shadowy corporate front group – the American Legislative Exchange Council – also known as ALEC – apparently has no problem with children eating rat poison. ALEC – which receives a lot of its funding from corporate billionaires like the Koch brothers – is now fighting EPA regulations on rat poison – a compound that causes about 15,000 kids to fall ill every year. But if you ask a top representative at ALEC – that’s not a big deal. As Todd Wynn – the director of ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agricultural Task Force said in an interview blasting the new EPA regulations, “there are certain levels of acceptable risk in society.” In other words – if a few kids die so that rat poison CEOs make millions – that’s a fair trade-off.
And finally…The City Council of Los Angeles voted unanimously yesterday to approve a resolution calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment ending corporate personhood. Los Angeles joins the growing list of cities and counties that have passed resolutions fighting back against corporate personhood – including Boulder, Colorado – Missoula, Montana – Madison, Wisconsin – Dane County, Wisconsin – and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Go to MoveToAmend.org and find out how to bring the battle against corporate personhood to your city.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, December 7th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.