On the News With Thom Hartmann: Thanks to Big Money, Gov. Scott Walker Is Ahead in the Wisconsin Recall Race, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Gov. Scott Walker is widening his lead in the Wisconsin recall race – thanks in large part to $25 million in campaign contributions from out-of-state oligarchs, the average CEO compensation topped $9.6 million last year, Donald Trump is the latest Obama birther, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Still doubt we’re living in an oligarchy? Check out a new report by the Associated Press today – showing that average CEO compensation topped $9.6 million in 2011 – the highest mark since the AP started looking at compensation numbers back in 2006. Meanwhile – wages for working people have barely budged – and it would now take the typical American worker 244 years just to make what their CEO makes in one year. And among Fortune 500 CEOs – it’s even worse – they make 380-times more than their average worker. So are Wall Street banksters, oil barons, and corporate executives really worth that much money? Should they be paid hundreds of times more than doctors, scientists, or even teachers? This is what neo-feudalism in America looks like – and if Paul Ryan and the Republicans who are pushing austerity for working people – and trillions of dollars in tax cuts for corporate CEOs – if they win big in November – it’ll only get worse. It’s time to rethink corporate capitalism altogether – and find ways to democratize the economy with worker-owned cooperatives, and business models like unions that look out for workers, the community, and the environment.

Republicans in the Senate once again screwed students. On Thursday – legislation to prevent the student loan interest rate from doubling in July was supported by a majority of Senators. Unfortunately – that wasn’t enough to overcome another Republican filibuster, so it failed. Republicans in the House have passed their own legislation to prevent the student loan interest rate from doubling – but they pay for it by cutting preventative care programs that give women cancer screenings and children vaccinations. Democrats in the Senate have proposed paying for it by closing a corporate tax loophole so that richy-rich lobbyists will have to start paying payroll taxes like the rest of us. Here we have two competing visions for America: Republicans say we should take from mothers and children to keep student loan rates low – while Democrats say we should we ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share in taxes to keep students in school. Sadly, the side Republicans have chosen is decidedly NOT with the American people.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The voices of more than a million people pleading with President Obama to protect the planet and put a stop to plans to drill in the Artic were ignored. Despite more than one million people signing a petition to the President to live up to his campaign promise to begin healing the planet, the New York Times is reporting President Obama has green-lighted letting oil corporations drill in the Arctic. As Michael Brune – the executive director of the Sierra Club said in a statement, “We never would have expected a Democratic president — let alone one seeking to be ‘transformative’ — to open up the Arctic Ocean for drilling.” Add this to the President’s endorsement of the Keystone XL pipeline, and environmentalists feel betrayed. On the other hand, the President may not have had much of a choice. In this post-Citizens United era – it only take one oil baron to decide he wants to take out the President – and drop $500 million in negative ads into the 2012 election to end his presidency. While the President promised to heal the planet – it’ll be impossible to do so until we get big oil’s money out of our politics. Corruption of our democracy is now causing the destruction of our planet. Go to MoveToAmend.org to see what you can do to stop this.

It’s increasingly looking like big money will win out in Wisconsin. Polls show Governor Scott Walker widening his lead in the Wisconsin recall race – thanks in large part to $25 million in campaign contributions from out-of-state oligarchs. Walker is also outspending his Democratic opponent – Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by 3-1 on TV ads. So Walker might escape next month, but this battle for the rights of working people in bigger than Wisconsin. From Ohio – where voters repealed an anti-workers rights law – to Michigan where activists are taking on Governor Snyder’s radical crony financial dictators law – to Indiana where working people have mobilized against the state’s recently passed “right to work FOR LESS” law – Americans are fighting back hard against the right-wing assault on the Middle Class.

Shock jock blow-hard Rush Limbaugh says he hates government waste – but he’ll likely stay mum about how much taxpayer money is being wasted guarding a bust of his fat head in Missouri. According to a clerk with the Missouri State House – legislators authorized spending more than a thousand dollars on a security camera to keep constant surveillance on the Rush Limbaugh bust commemorating Limbaugh’s induction into the Hall of Famous Missourians. Republican legislators defended the spending – arguing that there is a lot of controversy around the Limbaugh bust and there are fears that it could be vandalized. I guess the bigger question here – aside from taxpayer money being wasted – is why someone who goes on radio to call private citizens “sluts” has his bust in the Missouri Hall of Fame anyway?

And finally … move over Sheriff Joe Arpaio – the Donald is making a run at being the leader of the birthers. In an interview with the Daily Beast – reality TV star Donald Trump once again claimed President Obama was born in Kenya. Earlier this week – the state of Hawaii once again released more documents proving President Obama was born in the state – but Trump is pinning his argument on an obscure write-up by one of President Obama’s literary agents more than twenty years ago saying that Obama was born in Kenya. Trump is a shrewd PR artist and knows exactly what he’s doing. Today – a majority of registered Republicans believe the President is not a U.S. citizen – and Trump is happy to play on these whackos. So, will Mitt Romney – who’s best buds with the Donald – disavow the crazy talk – or pander to it in a desperate bid to win the White House? Time will tell.

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, May 25, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.