In today’s On the News segment: Republicans want to hold our economy hostage again, but they may not get the chance to do so; Big Oil raked in more than $93 billion dollars in profit last year, but they’re still begging Congress for more tax breaks; it turns out that low-pay and low-benefits doesn’t mean high profits for corporations; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Republicans want to hold our economy hostage again, but they may not get the chance to do so. With the February 27th debt limit deadline looming, House Speaker John Boehner will bring up a clean debt ceiling bill, and many of his members are not happy. Republicans tried to put forward a new list of demands for a debt-limit increase, but Speaker Boehner has given in to the President, and moved up the vote to tonight. The Republican’s previous economic hostage taking has cost our nation billions of dollars and at least 750,000 jobs, but a clean debt ceiling bill could break that cycle, and prevent even more damage. Far-right members have refused to increase the debt limit under any circumstances, so moderate Republicans will have to side with Democrats to pass this legislation. It will be interesting to see how this vote turns out, and whether it furthers the divide in the Republican party. The hard-core Republicans simply want to block any so-called victory for the President, and they could very well turn on Speaker Boehner for giving up on their list of demands. The Republican economic hostage taking has already cost our nation too much, but perhaps an end to their obstruction is near. Hopefully Congress can pull together the votes to increase the debt limit, and break the cycle of exchanging austerity for basic legislation. Stay tuned.
In screwed news… Big Oil raked in more than $93 billion dollars in profit last year, but they’re still begging Congress for more tax breaks. A new report from OpenSecrets.org exposed the massive profits of just five companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell, and together these oil giants are making about 177 thousand dollars a minute. Despite those profits, Big Oil is lobbying lawmakers to lift the ban on exporting crude oil, and asking them not to place any new limits on tax breaks that cost Americans billions of dollars every year. Barclays Bank estimates that lifting that ban would add $10 billion dollars to gas prices here in the U.S. These companies already get billions of tax breaks, not including the external costs of their toxic products. It’s time to cut the tax subsidies for oil companies – not increase them – and it’s time to make them pay the real price for the damage they inflict on our environment.
In the best of the rest of the news…
It turns out that low-pay and low-benefits doesn’t mean high profits for corporations. Walmart’s fixation on lowering costs has led to shrinking sales, a declining public image, and a downgrade of their stock rating. The equities research firm Wolfe Research has downgraded Walmart’s stock from a “market perform” rating to a “underperform” rating, and two out of three reasons stemmed from how the mega retailer treats their workers. Those reasons included Walmart’s understaffing, costs associated with pressure from workers trying to organize, and an erosion of the company’s price advantage over other retailers. Because of these issues, the retailer has started adding more full-time employees, and running marketing campaigns about the benefits of working for Walmart. Those minimal efforts may help them regain their previous stock rating, but Walmart will have to do much more to make up for lost ground with their customers and their employees.
According to RadCast.org, people all around our nation are concerned about radiation levels, and new cities are contributing readings to RadCast’s daily report. Asheville, North Carolina is averaging 38 counts per minute, with highs of 62, and Jackson Heights, New York is reporting 34 counts per minute, however, they haven’t yet provided information on radiation spikes. Canton, Ohio is sitting at 42 counts per minute, with spikes of 107, and Billings, Montana is hovering at 47 counts per minute. Favwood Hot Springs, New Mexico is averaging 86, with highs of 87 counts per minute, and Banning, California is hovering at 45 counts per minute, with spikes of 68. RadCast.org’s alert level is 100 counts per minute, however they remind us that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation.
And finally… More than 50,000 people are calling on Congress to extend tax credits for wind energy. Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg created the Climate Parents Petition, and he’s collecting signatures to send to Senator Ron Wyden, who is taking over the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee. The wind production tax credit, aka the PTC, expired on December 31st of last year, and environmental groups have been calling on the Finance Committee to reinstate it. The PTC is a modest tax credit, which provides wind energy producers with 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce. This credit helps support green energy producers in our nation, but it’s been under attack by the oil lobby and the Koch brothers. The Climate Parents Petition reads, “The decision on whether to extend the wind PTC is a crucial test for Congress that will impact the type of world our children inherit.” Hopefully, Senator Wyden can get this vital tax credit restored.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, February 11, 2014. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.