In today’s On the News segment: Kentucky Congressman Rand Paul refuses to believe the facts on shrinking public employment in a debate with economist Paul Krugman, Romney flip-flopped on Obamacare once again in a Sunday NBC interview, the German constitutional court is expected to rule Wednesday on whether the country can continue to lend money to struggling eurozone nations, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The nation’s third largest school district is without teachers today. After contract negotiations fell through over the weekend, the Chicago Teachers Union declared a strike and walked off the job this morning. This is the first time Chicago teachers have gone on strike in 25 years. Altogether 29,000 teachers and school workers are joining in on the strike to demand better pay, working conditions, and stop the march toward privatization of the city’s schools. At the heart of the strike are several issues: One is a four-percent pay increase teachers were promised last year – but was cancelled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Instead, the mayor is asking teachers to work a longer school day. Also, teachers are asking for a state limit on classroom sizes – a law that’s in place in 32 other states, but not in Illinois. Plus, teachers are trying to reverse the Mayor’s plans to slash public education funding and use that money to create 250 non-union, for-profit charter schools. Chicago has now become ground-zero in the battle over how we as a nation will educate our children. Will we embrace the public school system that Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann worked so hard to create – and support teachers who perform one of the most important jobs in our society? Or, will we hand off educating our kids to the money-changers and corporate CEOs who see education as a get-rich-quick scheme? Keep an eye on the Windy City.
In screwed news…turns out Mitt Romney did like Obamacare, after all…at least for a few hours on Sunday – and then he flip-flopped…again. In an interview on Sunday with NBC – Romney admitted that there are a number of things he likes with Obamacare – including a guarantee that health insurers can’t deny people with pre-existing conditions healthcare – and reforms that allow children to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. So the man who first created Obamneycare in Massachusetts, and then disavowed it when he ran for President, now supports it again. Or he did for a few hours, until his campaign released a statement saying Romney actually opposes all provisions of Obamacare and instead believes that the corporate-run “free market” will find a way to cover those with pre-existing conditions. In other words, Romney wants to roll-back Obamacare. So if the hundreds of millions of Americans who have pre-existing conditions think they have a friend in Mitt Romney, they’re clearly mistaken. At least until Romney flip-flops again.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan just moved to the left of President Obama when it comes to medical marijuana legalization. In an interview with a local Colorado news affiliate – a state which is poised to become the first in the nation to legalize marijuana in November – Paul Ryan weighed in on medical marijuana saying, “My personal position on these issues has been, let the states decide what they want to do with these things.” That statement puts Ryan at odds with his running mate Mitt Romney who opposed any sort of legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposed or not. It also put separation between Ryan and President Obama, who has cracked down on several medical marijuana facilities operating legally under state law. This should be a wake-up call for the President. There are millions of votes at stake among young Libertarians and progressives who favor marijuana legalization – and the President can get those votes if he comes out in support of ending Nixon’s failed drug war. Vice President Joe Biden pushed him out on gay marriage – let’s hope VP candidate Paul Ryan pushes him to come out for federal medical marijuana decriminalization.
More bad news for the technocrats and banksters in the Eurozone as the fate of the continent may rest with judges sitting on the German constitutional court. Last week, the European Central Bank announced new plans to buy government bonds and provide relief to collapsing nations like Spain and Italy, but those plans could be scrapped if a German court forbids that nation from contributing more money to the European rescue fund. On Wednesday, the German constitutional court is expected to rule if it is constitutional for Germany to continue loaning money to other struggling Eurozone nations. If the court blocks more financial aid, then the European Central Bank’s plan is bust – and the consequences for the euro are catastrophic. Also, with an election looming in Netherlands – there’s a chance a new Dutch government could prevent further contributions to the European rescue fund, too. Europe’s EU experiment may be fast-approaching an endgame.
While Republicans are relying on billionaires to win the election this year – Democrats are enlisting the help of lawyers. In response to a rash of Voter Suppression ID laws and restrictions on early voting and voter registration, President Obama’s re-election team and the DNC are deploying teams of lawyers in states around the country to challenge right-wing anti-voting laws. The voter-protection teams, as they’re called, are monitoring any new law changes, putting pressure on local election officials, and training poll watchers to keep an eye on any “shenanigans” come Election Day. It’s a crime that such efforts are necessary in America – the beacon for democracy around the world. But with the Republican Party committed to kicking millions of Democratic voters off the rolls by November, what other choice is there?
And finally…Rand Paul doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The Republican Senator from Kentucky had an embarrassing moment on Sunday when he was debating economist Paul Krugman about the size of government. Senator Paul claimed, “the size of government is enormous under President Obama.” To which Krugman shot him down saying there are fewer people employed by government today than when President Obama took office. Paul refused to believe it – even though it’s absolutely true. There are more than 600,000 fewer government jobs around America than when Bush left office. I guess Republicans have been telling the big lie so long that even they don’t even know what’s true anymore.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, September 10, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.