In today’s On the News segment: SCOTUS justices will hear oral arguments in McCutchen v. FEC, another challenge to campaign contribution limits; House Speaker John Boehner pledged not to back down from his list of demands; John Kerry is “very pleased” with Syria’s chemical disarmament; voters who live near SeaTac airport in Seattle will get the chance to approve a living wage for about 6,300 workers; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Our government is still shut down, but that won’t stop the kings and queens of America from holding court. This week, the Supreme Court begins their new session, and the docket looks like a Republican wish list of laws they’d love to see overturned. On Tuesday, the justices will hear oral arguments in McCutchen v. FEC, which is another challenge to campaign contribution limits. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will take time off from keeping the government unfunded, to personally argue that billionaires should be able to dump even more money into our elections. In addition, this term our nation’s highest court will hear cases on abortion, affirmative action, labor laws, separation of church and state, and environmental regulation. And, the five conservative members of the Court could undo generations of work that was done improve our nation. By this time next year, fair housing laws could be eliminated, the EPA may be unable to regulate air pollution, our privacy rights could be further diminished, lawmakers could be allowed to advocate a particular religion, and US-based corporations could have the go-ahead to abuse workers in foreign countries. It’s almost as if the pro-corporate, billionaire-backed Tea Party hand picked these huge cases for consideration. Ironically, the government shut down may be the only thing that stands in the way of the conservative justices ruling in favor of their right-wing buddies. If the government funding bill is not passed, the Supreme Court may have to postpone hearings after this week. These cases are extremely important, and Supreme Court decisions can be nearly impossible to overturn. The kings and queens of our nation have amassed a huge amount of power, and it appears that five of them are about to use that power to screw over our nation.
In screwed news… House Speaker John Boehner seems determined to destroy our economy. This past Sunday, on ABC’s This Week, the speaker pledged not to back down from his list of demands, and said that “the path we’re on” leads to default. And, in addition to the hostage taking over funding the government, now the Republicans want to slash Medicare and Social Security in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Yet, Speaker Boehner flat out refused to consider any new tax revenues. Boehner and the Tea Party Republicans want their list of demands met, with no compromise, or they are willing to put the entire world economy in jeopardy. All the while, the speaker and others on the Right say that President Obama is the one refusing to negotiate. This economic standoff is becoming more dangerous by the day, and forcing many to question whether it can be resolved. Speaker Boehner himself said that breaching the debt ceiling would be “catastrophic,” – freezing credit markers, raising interest rates, and devaluing the American dollar. However, it appears he fears the Tea Party more than a world-wide economic disaster.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Secretary of State John Kerry is “very pleased” with Syria’s chemical disarmament. The international community only started working in that nation one week ago, and already chemical weapons have started to be destroyed. While Secretary Kerry stressed that the Assad regime is not off the hook yet, he offered some rare praise for the Syrian President. At a press conference with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Secretary Kerry said that Bashar Assad deserves credit for Syria’s swift compliance with the U.N. Security Council resolution. The secretary of state also praised the international chemical weapons experts, who have started the difficult process of destroying the dangerous weapons. Kerry said, “I think that was a terrific example of global cooperation, of multilateral efforts to accomplish an accepted goal, and they have moved with equal speed to get on the ground in Syria and begin the operations.” The process won’t be easy, but our world is better each time any dangerous weapon is destroyed.
The “Fight for Fifteen” may soon have a victory in Seattle. On November 5th, voters who live near SeaTac airport will get the chance to approve a living wage for about 6,300 workers. If approved, employees at the airport, and nearby hotels, parking lots, and car rental agencies would have to be paid at least $15 dollars an hour. That’s more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and substantially higher than Washington state’s minimum of $9.19 an hour. Not only would the higher wage make life easier on hourly workers, but a study from Puget Sound Sage says it would add $54 million dollars into that area of Seattle. Heather Weiner, a spokeswoman for a group supporting the initiative, said, “This would be a big economic boost in the arm for a part of our region that is suffering a lot.” And, labor groups hope that the proposed wage increase will encourage other communities to follow. In less than a month, voters will have the power to make life better for workers, and provide a great stimulus to their local economy. Hopefully, they will approve this win-win, common-sense proposal.
And finally… The government shutdown is hurting millions of Americans around our nation, including hundreds of thousands of furloughed government workers. So, Tom Nardone of Birmingham, Michigan is doing his part to help out. As the owner of an online adult-toy store, Mr. Nardone is offering free personal pleasure items to any out-of-work government employee. According to Mr. Nardone, his company can send out about 200 free adult toys per day without slowing down shipments for their paying customers. His website states “We want everyone to experience the pleasure that a nice [toy] can bring to partners and individuals. Besides, we know you have some free time, why not try something new?” Sure, his generosity may be more about free publicity than free items for furloughed workers, but at least he’s providing some free stress relief to federal employees wondering when they can get back to work.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, October 7, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.