On the News With Thom Hartmann: Taliban Attack in Kabul, Florida Slashes Unemployment Benefits, and More


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan launched a bold and deadly attack against an upscale international hotel in Kabul yesterday. At around 10pm – insurgents – rigged with explosives – rushed into the heavily secured hotel – setting off bombs and gunning down Afghan police officers and hotel guests. A standoff between the insurgents and Afghan security forces lasted until about 3am before NATO helicopters swooped in and killed the last remaining attackers holed up on the roof. That attack left 19 people dead – including the eight attackers – and was the most complex and daring attacks staged by the Taliban in Kabul since the Afghan war began ten years ago. It’s an ominous sign of the Taliban’s strength today – coming just one week after President Obama unveiled his troop withdraw plan – and touted the success he said his troop surge had in breaking the Taliban’s momentum. Clearly – after a decade of war – and spending more than $3.7 trillion on military efforts in the Middle East – Afghanistan is a long way from stable – and our military presence isn’t doing much to change that unpleasant reality. We need to get out of there now.

The jobless are screwed in Florida. Governor Rick Scott may have just won the race to the bottom when it comes to unemployment insurance. Scott – one of America’s most disliked Governors – signed into law yesterday a huge reduction in Florida’s unemployment benefit system – cutting the number of weeks someone is eligible to collect unemployment from 26 down to just 12. The cut falls in line with Governor Scott’s promise to corporations to lower their unemployment tax payments by $630 million. So again – screw over poor people to give rich businessmen tax cuts. The National Employment Law Project says Scott’s unemployment cuts, “go further than any other state in dismantling its unemployment insurance system.” Currently – Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation at 10.6%. And, as we’ve seen elsewhere around the country – when Republican Governors cut programs that keep the poor and middle-class above water – then economies shrink. So expect the already high unemployment rate in Florida to get even higher, and cost the state even more in unemployment insurance.

In the best of the rest of the news…

With violence erupting in the streets outside Parliament – Greek lawmakers passed a controversial $40 billion austerity package today chock full of spending cuts and tax hikes targeting mostly the working class. As the vote was held – protestors stormed the Finance Ministry outside Parliament – breaking windows and looting the place before police repelled them. With the austerity package passed – the IMF and European Union will dish out a rescue package to Greece to avoid the nation from defaulting on its debts…at least for now. The banksters win again.

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Don’t believe Republicans when they tell you lower taxes for rich people will create jobs for the economy – they’re lying. As Republicans threaten to blow up debt limit negotiations if taxes are raised one nickel on their millionaire and billionaire owners – a new study by the Center for American Progress shows that – historically – job creation in America is at its best when tax rates for the rich are at their highest. For example – when tax rates for the rich were at 90% – as they were under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower – employment grew about 2% a year on average – but when tax rates for the rich are are cut to 35% – as they are today – annual employment growth is far less – a measly .4%. The reason why? Rich people aren’t job creators! On the other hand – people like you and me who spend money and buy stuff – create demand – which creates more jobs – and stimulates an economy. Giving a guy worth one hundred million dollars – a $30 million tax cut – won’t create one damn job – it will just bankrupt our government and shrink our economy. Than again – that IS the Republican plan heading into 2012 – to crash the economy to make President Obama look bad in the election. So with President Obama taking the Bush tax cuts off the table in debt-limit negotiations – everything is going according to plan for the Republicans.

Bank of America is the first big bank to get hit in the pockets for their role in the 2008 financial crisis. The bank has agreed to pay out an $8.5 billion settlement to more than 20 investors who alleged the bank defrauded them with junk investments during the housing bubble. It’s the biggest settlement so far against any bank that behaved badly during the subprime housing fiasco. Let’s hope it’s just the beginning – and the rest of the banksters on Wall Street are forced to pay for the damage their greed caused around our nation. Only problem? They're paying with out bailout money. Better solution – break up the big banks like Sweden and England are doing.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s painful cuts to Medicaid may kill another person in Arizona. This year – 135,000 Arizonians will likely lose their Medicaid coverage thanks to Governor Brewer’s $500 million cut to that critical healthcare program for the poor. One of those people – Steven Stephenson – had to quit his job because of a heart condition – and now is on Social Security to make ends meet. But his Social Security payments disqualify him form Medicaid – because he apparently now earns $12 too much to apply – meaning he’s no longer covered for life-saving heart surgery. At least 2 people have already died in Arizona when they were denied life-saving medical procedures as a result of Brewer’s Medicaid cuts intended to help balance the state’s budget. That’s the Republicans deficit reduction strategy at work – balance budgets by killing off the poor and the sick. Ayn Rand would be proud.

The right-wing’s misinformation machine kicked into high gear yesterday to prove that Republican Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann was indeed correct when she said that John Quincy Adam’s – our nation’s 6th president – was one of the Founding Fathers. Of course – John Quincy Adams was the son of our second president – an actual Founding Father – John Adams – therefore Quincy could not possible have been a founding father. But that didn’t stop history re-writers from taking to Wikipedia and editing John Quincy Adam’s page to include information that he WAS a founding father. But I guess if the facts aren’t on your side – then you might as well just make them up – isn’t that a Republicans motto or something??

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, June 29th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

The Thom Hartmann Program noon-3pm ET & The Big Picture 9pm & 11pm ET on Free Speech TV and RT TV www.ThomHartmann.com