On the News With Thom Hartmann: The Economy Could Be Headed for a “Fiscal Cliff,” and More

In today’s On the News segment: the economy could be headed for a “fiscal cliff,” hundreds of thousands of people in Quebec protested austerity cuts to education and tuition hikes, the Chamber of Commerce is “planning on having a good year” buying up elected officials, and more.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Conservatives are now calling President Obama’s ads against Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, attacks against capitalism. In a press conference on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, “The whole notion of our success and of capitalism seems to be under attack by this administration across the board.” Also on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor went on Fox so-called News to talk about how the President and Democrats in Congress are “denigrating” business in America. Republicans are quick to defend private equity firms – like Bain Capital – in America. But, perhaps, they don’t know what private equity firms do, which is to use other people’s money to buy companies – then strip those companies down to be more profitable by firing workers – then use the company as collateral to borrow a lot of money to pay back the original investors – and then sell the stripped-down, debt-ridden company for a profit – on which they only pay 15% in taxes thanks to the capital gains tax loophole. In the process – not one job was created – in fact, a lot are lost – not one thing of value was created, and only people at the private equity firm and shareholders in the company actually made money. That’s how Mitt Romney got rich. So, if that’s what American capitalism is all about – if that’s what Republicans think it means to be a sacred American capitalist – then American capitalism is rotten to the core.

In screwed news…the economy could be headed for a “fiscal cliff.” That’s the warning the Congressional Budget Office had for lawmakers on Tuesday after a looking at the consequences of automatic spending cuts set to take effect at the end of the year, and the expiring Bush tax cuts for ALL Americans. The CBO estimates that the economy will shrink by 1.3% in the first half of 2013 should lawmakers let the spending cuts takes effect and let the tax cuts for ALL Americans expire. On the flip side, the deficit would shrink by about $607 billion. So Republicans would get what they want – deficit reduction – but the economy would tank, and millions more Americans would be out of a job. Democrats have proposed a solution to this problem – which is extending the Bush tax cuts for all Americans except for the Romney-level super-rich. Unfortunately, Republicans would rather watch the economy go off the cliff than see their Romney-level super-rich political donors have to pay their fair share in taxes. Even the Associated Press is asking the question “is the GOP trying to sabotage the economy to hurt Obama?” I think the answer is clearly, yes.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Just in case you thought our Congress wasn’t the best that money can buy – the Chamber of Commerce is confirming it this election year. At a meeting in Washington, Chamber President Tom Donohue told members that his organization is, “planning on having a good year,” and will spend more money this election than they did in 2010, when they spent more than $30 million catapulting corporate shills calling themselves Tea Partiers into Congress. The Chamber is eyeing at least 12 Senate races and 37 House races with their corporate war-chest. Already the Chamber has dumped $3.4 million into this year’s election. As for the goal – the Chamber’s National Political Director summed it up by saying, “Our strategy is to protect the pro-business majority in the House and advance our interests in the Senate.” That’s similar to the campaign platform of Warren Harding who in 1920 called for “more business in government and less government in business.” Nine years later – the economy crashed. And less than nine years after our first MBA President, George W. Bush, put in place basically the same policies – the economy crashed again. And now, here’s the Chamber of Commerce promising to do it all again.

The massive backlash against austerity has hit North America. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Montreal on Tuesday to protest Canadian austerity cuts to education and tuition hikes. It was the hundredth day of protests since the Quebec government passed legislation calling for the cuts. Meanwhile in the United States, tuition has increased more than 500% since Reagan, and Republicans are pushing their own austerity cuts to education. So why are Americans students not in the streets as well?

Beginning today – residents and community groups from Benton Harbor, Michigan will begin occupying the PGA – the Professional Golf Association. Later this week – the PGA will host a golf tournament in Benton Harbor – a city that was taken over by one Governor Rick Snyder’s financial managers. As part of the takeover – 22 acres of a local public park were sold – without the say of voters – to a corporation that would develop it into a golf course. Now, the PGA is hosting a tournament at this golf course – and residents of Benton Harbor are calling on the PGA to transfer 25% of its profits to the city. Demonstrations are scheduled for the remainder of this week, so if you’re in the area, drop by and lend your support.

And finally…let people get high! So says the American people in a new Rasmussen poll that finds 56% of Americans support legalizing marijuana and regulating it like tobacco and alcohol. Only 36% of Americans were opposed to the idea. The number of Americans supporting marijuana legalization has jumped nearly ten-percent since a similar poll was conducted back in March. And this poll backs up a Gallup poll from last year showing that for the first time pot was criminalized in the 1920s, more than half of the nation supports marijuana legalization. The American people are realizing that Nixon’s failed war on drugs has a lot to do with our economic and social problems today – from prison overcrowding, to deficit-inducing drug enforcement, to violence on the Southern border. Let’s scrap it altogether and put in place some common-sense drug laws.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, May 23, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.