Thom Hartmann here – on the news.
You need to know this. Another day – another credit rating agency warning about our debt. On the heels of Moody’s threatening to downgrade our nation’s debt rating on Wednesday – the S&P rating agency fired a warning shot too – putting our nation’s triple AAA rating on negative watch. In a statement released yesterday – S&P said, “owing to the dynamics of the political debate on the debt ceiling, there is at least a one-in-two likelihood that we could lower the long-term rating on the U.S. within the next 90 days.” That’s right – there’s a 50-50 chance the United State will be downgraded to a nation with a spotty record of paying our bills. Even if a deal is made – S&P warns – our credit rating could still be downgraded if the agency doesn’t feel enough has been done to solve the problem for the long term which puts Republicans short-term solutions off the table. Meanwhile – another round of talks at the White House pushed the President into laying down a deadline for a deal. “It’s decision time,” the President said issuing a 24 to 36 hour deadline for Congress to make a deal on the debt-limit. The house of cards that our economy is built on thanks to 30 years of Reaganomics and so-called Free Trade is now starting to crumble. And last night – lawmakers took to the diamond to play their annual Congressional softball game. Does anyone else hear the fiddle playing as the nation burns?
Homeowners are screwed. As foreclosures mount – and sketchy banking practices persist – it seems like no one is looking out for the average homeowner. And in Florida – that’s exactly the case. Two state foreclosure investigators in the Sunshine State were inexplicable let go just as they were going after banks in the state for mortgage fraud. Florida has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country – and just as Assistant Attorney General Theresa Edwards was digging in to find out why – she was fired by Attorney General – and Rick Scott crony – Pam Bondi who coincidentally has received over $200,000 in campaign donations from real estate lenders and banksters. Edwards alleges she was fired because Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi wanted someone in the position that was, “more in line with their thinking.” And that thinking is…screwing over the working class for more campaign contributions from predatory banksters.
In the best of the rest of the news…
The G-Men are on the case. Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp is now under investigation by the FBI for allegations the corporation hacked into phone voicemails belonging to victims of 9/11. The phone hacking scandal that’s seen the arrest of 8 NewsCorp employees already in the UK is now hitting the shores of the United States where Murdoch’s biggest enterprises – The Wall Street Journal and Fox so-called News – are stashed. And with a growing chorus of American lawmakers and media organizations calling for inquiries into the media mogul’s less than savory behavior – it could be just a matter of time before Murdoch’s empire in the states crumbles. Maybe as part of a plea-bargain deal – Murdoch will be forced to at least take the word “News” out of “Fox News”.
If the Republicans hope that blowing up the economy to make President Obama look bad in 2012 will work – then they still have a lot of work to do convincing the American people. A new Quinnipiac poll shows that 54% of American blame the bad economy on George W. Bush – whereas only 27% believe President Obama is to blame. On top of that – more Americans trust President Obama to handle the economy than they do Congressional Republicans. And if we do indeed default on our debts – the poll showed that most American won’t blame the President – they’ll blame House Republicans like Speaker of the House John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Hopefully, the adults in the Republican Party are thinking of returning to their Eisenhower and Dirksen rational roots – their right-wing-crazy plan isn’t working.
Medicare is not the problem. As much as Republicans want you to think Medicare is bankrupting America – it’s not. What’s really bankrupting America are tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and two unpaid wars in the Middle East. Not only are the Bush tax-cuts the single largest contributor to our annual budget deficits over the last ten years – but as Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research noted – Medicare shortfalls over the next 75 years pale in comparison to the cost of our military misadventures in the Arab world. The amount of money that Medicare will add to our nation’s debt over the next three-quarters of a century is only one-fourth of the cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars over the last ten years – just one-fourth! Yet there is no talk of ending the wars in the Republican deficit-reduction proposals – and plenty of talk of ending Medicare as we know it. The solutions are pretty clear here – want to get America out of debt? Then end the wars – and raises taxes on the rich just like Clinton did – which then created 23 million jobs and balanced the budget.
Turn the lights back on in Minnesota. The two-week government shutdown in the state is coming to a close as Republican state lawmakers and Democratic Governor Mark Daytonm,j have reached a deal on the state’s budget. Ultimately – Republicans got what they wanted – no tax increases on the rich – a bunch of spending cuts on the working class – and no real resolution to the state’s debt problem – essentially kicking the can down the road to deal with it in the future. I guess the threat of restaurants running out of beer was the final straw for Republican lawmakers – who wasted millions of dollars each day the government was shut down. Welcome to the new era of politics in American – shut-downs, buy-offs, and bad government courtesy of the Republican Party.
Crazy Alert! Preparing for a flood? Two men in Florida were arrested earlier this week after police found their parked van loaded to the brim with animals. Inside the car were eight roosters – four guinea pigs – four pigeons – a duck – and a goat. The men were charged with 22 counts of animal cruelty. Unclear what the men were up to with the two-by-two animal stash – and if they REALLY thought their clunker van could hold up like a sturdy ark in case the rains did come. But one thing's for sure – as Michele Bachmann continues surging in the Republicans polls – the likelihood of an apocalyptic flood surges too.
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, July 15th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann on the news.