You need to know this. More than 100 people were arrested yesterday as part of the 99% Movement. Here in Washington, DC – 62 people were handcuffed during a successful day of action occupying lobbyist offices on K Street. Over 1,000 people – including many unionized workers – took part in the day of action dubbed “Take Back the Capitol.” Braving relentless, freezing rain – patriots shut down several blocks of K Street – forcing lobbying outfits to close up shop for the day. Meanwhile, across the country, in San Francisco 70 patriots were arrested after police stormed into that city’s “Occupy” encampment with little more than a 5-minute warning. But given the recent successes of the 99% movement – from city councils passing anti-corporate personhood legislation – to now-deafening calls to throw banksters in jail – to the recent populist tone of the President – one thing is clear: the movement is winning – no matter how many people cops throw in jail.
Republicans in the House yesterday passed legislation giving themselves even more power. The “Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act” – or REINS Act – gives either chamber of Congress complete veto power over new regulations put in place by White House executive orders. The bill most helps corporate polluters – as Republicans would be able to shoot down new environmental regulations that keep our children and environment safe – and to hell with the balance of power that’s supposed to exist in our government. The ironic thing about this legislation is that President Obama has enacted far fewer regulations than the George W. Bush – but there was no outcry about over-regulation during Bush's presidency. So while Republicans pass legislation that won’t create a single job – and won’t even pass the Senate – the clock is ticking on middle class Americans who face a $1,000 tax hike at the end of the year unless House Republicans agree to extend the payroll tax cut.
In the best of the rest of the news…
European financial leaders are quietly preparing for the worst, as the clock nears midnight on a Eurozone collapse. European Central Banks are drawing up plans to bring back old currencies that haven’t been in print since 2002, should the euro go up in flames. As the Wall Street Journal notes, “the fact central bankers are even studying the possibility, which until this fall was considered unthinkable, underscores how swiftly conditions have deteriorated.”
With states facing unprecedented budget crises – several Republican Governors are targeting their own unionized workers to squeeze as much money as they can out of working people. But according to a new study from Citizens for Tax Justice – unionized government workers aren’t the reason behind state budget deficits – corporate tax dodgers are the real problem. Between 2008 and 2010, 68 major corporations avoided paying ANY state taxes – despite the fact that these corporations raked in a combined 1.3 trillion bucks. Altogether – the corporate tax dodgers cost states over $42 billion in much-needed revenue – enough to pay the salaries of over a million government workers at or above the US median wage. Since Reagan was elected in 1980 – corporate taxes as a share of state revenue has been cut nearly in half. So don’t believe the spin that unions have anything to do with state budget deficits. There’s a real simple way for states to get back on track without screwing over teachers, firefighters, and cops – and that’s by simply making corporations pay their fair share of taxes again.
The populism flowing throughout America right now could catapult Elizabeth Warren into the Senate. According to the latest poll out of Massachusetts – the consumer watchdog and middle class advocate – Warren – is now leading incumbent Republican Scott Brown by a wide margin in the race for a Massachusetts Senate seat. The poll – conducted by the Boston Herald and the University of Massachusetts – shows Warren with a 7-point lead, which is a big turnaround from a poll taken back in September – before the Occupy Wall Street movement began – when Scott Brown had a 3-point lead. Warren’s large lead is all the more impressive considering that Karl Rove’s corporate front group Crossroads GPS is dumping huge amounts of billionaire money into Massachusetts – running TV ads against Warren. Let’s give Warren all the help she needs – she’d make a great Senator.
On the heels of news that carbon emission are skyrocketing at their fastest pace since the Industrial Revolution began – world leaders are at an impasse at the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa. And many nations are pinning the blame for the stalemate right on the United States. As the Chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation to the summit said, “What is really frustrating to see is this conference is again hijacked by the Ping-Pong game between the U.S. and China.” While most of the rest of the world is pushing for legally binding emission cuts – the United States is countering with a plan for voluntary emissions cuts only. Perhaps the most embarrassing thing is that we’re the only nation at the negotiating table where the issue of global climate change is still up for debate. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that we’ve given transnational oil corporations unlimited opportunities to spend as much money as they’d like in our elections. Until we kick the oil barons out of government, then we’ll never be an honest negotiator in climate talks.
Crazy Alert! Step away from that banana! A Muslim cleric in Europe has banned women from touching phallic-shaped foods. According to an Egyptian news website – the cleric issued the ban on women touching long and slender fruits and vegetables because they could cause women to “think of sex.” The horror! The list of forbidden food includes bananas, cucumbers, zucchinis, and carrots. But that doesn’t mean women can’t still enjoy these foods – as the cleric said, “If women wish to eat these food items, a third party, preferably a male related to them such as their a father or husband, should cut the items into small pieces and serve.” Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump have proposed that zucchinis, cucumbers, and carrots be considered “essential foods” in the new food pyramid.
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, December 8th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.