On the News With Thom Hartmann: The Exodus of Corporate Donors From the American Legislative Exchange Council Continues, and More

In today’s On the News segment: The exodus of corporate donors from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) continues, banks are once again preying on the poor with subprime lending, the ghost of Joe McCarthy is alive and well in Congress, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. With Rick Santorum out of the race – it’s time for the right-wing millionaires and billionaires and their SuperPACs to rally behind Mitt Romney. Within hours of Santorum suspending his campaign – his chief donor – multi-millionaire bankster Foster Friess – told Politico he’s ready to jump aboard the Romney bandwagon. For the last few months – Friess pretty much single-handedly kept the Santorum campaign afloat with $1.7 million in SuperPAC donations. But now, Freiss said, “I’ve got some plans as to how I might able to help,” and, “the bottom line is, I’m going to be very supportive [of Romney].” Friess also said he may be donating to Karl Rove’s SuperPACs that have pledged $300 million to defeat President Obama in November. Meanwhile – the one guy still left in the Republican race – aside from Ron Paul who hasn’t won a single state yet – is Newt Gingrich – and he likely won’t be much longer. The Gingrich campaign bounced a $500 check in Utah when it submitted paperwork to be on the Utah primary ballot. The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that the deadbeat Gingrich campaign isn’t returning calls from the state after the bounced check. That could be a sign that Gingrich’s top billionaire donor – Chinese casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson – might be ready to shift his treasure chest to the Romney team as well. The billionaires against the sitting President: brought to you by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

The banksters are at it again – screwing over the poor. As banks have once again returned to making pre-recession profits – thanks mostly to their taxpayer bailout – they’re once again preying on the poor with subprime lending. A new report by Experian shows that credit card companies handed out 1.1 million new credit cards to people with bad credit in December of last year. That’s a 12% jump from just one year ago. The banks prefer those with low credit because they can jack interest rates up as high as 29% – and charge endless over-the-limit and late fees. Every year – banks make tens of billions of dollars on just fees – not interest payments. Targeting the poor to maximize fee income is also known as “predatory lending.” And today, banking makes up nearly a quarter of our entire economy. That means a full one-fourth of our economy now depends on taking advantage of Americans in economic trouble. Wouldn’t it be smarter to break up the power on Wall Street – and bring manufacturing back to America?

In the best of the rest of the news…

The American people have lost faith in the Supreme Court. With the fate of Obamacare in the hands of five right-wing justices – a new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that fewer than half of Americans – just 40% – think the high court will put aside partisan views and rule strictly on the basis of law. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats and 55% of Moderates polled said they think the Supreme Court will base their rulings on political views. If the Supreme Court is corrupt – and has the power to strike down laws passed by Congress and signed by the President – then we don’t have a democracy any more. We have a monarchy with five black-robed kings doing the bidding of the Republican Party and its deep-pocketed corporate donors.

President Obama is holding an event today with millionaires and their secretaries to push for the Buffet Rule – which would close the capital gains tax loophole so millionaires and billionaires pay the same tax rate as working Americans. Ronald Reagan even promoted the idea – Mitt Romney doesn’t. Could that be because Romney, himself, uses that loophole to pay less than half the rate paid by working Americans?

The exodus of corporate donors from the American Legislative Exchange Council continues. On Tuesday – McDonalds became the fifth major sponsor of ALEC to withdraw from the Koch-brothers-funded right-wing think tank just this month. Several progressive groups put pressure on corporate members of ALEC by threatening a boycott – prompting the like of Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Kraft to immediately cut ties. But there’re still a lot of CEOs – like at AT&T and Johnson & Johnson – who have no problem giving money to prevent millions of Americans from voting, and promote radical “Shoot First” laws – like the one kept given Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, from immediately being arrested in Florida.

New research shows that abstinence-only sex education actually INCREASES the rate of teen pregnancies. Teen pregnancy rates have fallen to their lowest levels in the United States since 1940 – thanks in large part to increased contraceptive use among teenagers. For example, researchers at the University of Washington found that teenagers who got comprehensive sex education were 60% less likely to get pregnant. But, states that don’t require comprehensive sex education – and promote abstinence-only education – have the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country. Neither Mississippi nor New Mexico require sex education in schools, but do endorse abstinence-only education – and the two states rank numbers one and two in teen pregnancy rates. Meanwhile – New Hampshire – which requires comprehensive sex education in schools – has the lowest rate of teen pregnancy in the nation.

And finally…the ghost of Joe McCarthy is alive and well in Congress. No stranger to controversy – Republican Congressman Allen West from Florida warned his constituents at a town hall meeting on Tuesday that several members of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives are “communists.” West said, “he’s heard” that as many as 80 Democratic Representatives are communists – though he didn’t explain where he heard this claim. Maybe from Michele Bachmann? West may be referring to the House Progressive caucus – which has 83 members – and recently introduced the Budget 4 All – which ends the wars, creates a public option, and taxes the rich. If that’s who Allen West is calling a communist – then Republican Presidents like Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon who ended wars and taxed the heck out of the rich were also communists.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, April 11, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.