In today's On the News segment: French President Francois Hollande introduced a new budget on Wednesday restoring pre-Sarkozy tax rates on the rich; despite numerous reports suggesting that voter fraud is a non-issue and there's absolutely no evidence of non-citizens trying to vote, several red states are pushing ahead with new voter ID laws; the Republicans' chances of winning Rhode Island in November just got slimmer; Mexico is headed for a recount in its presidential election; and more.
I'm Geoff Holtzman in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. With the Socialists now in control of France – the wealthy are again - after a long pause of tax cuts for the rich under Sarkosy - being asked to sacrifice their fair share. President Francois Hollande introduced a new budget on Wednesday – restoring pre-Sarkozy tax rates on the rich. That includes a surtax on anyone making more than $1.6 million, plus a tax on the nation's biggest banks and oil corporations, which is expected to trim 1.1 billion euros out of France's budget deficit. Under Hollande's budget, the new tax rate on any income over $1 million dollars will go back to 75%. That might sound steep here in America where the top tax rate is around 35%, but it's actually where the top tax rate was – and for two decades even higher – from after the 1930s until Ronald Reagan, including during the non-socialist presidencies of Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, Jerry Ford, and Dwight Eisenhower. That was a time when our nation could afford a strong social safety net to support a growing middle class, plus new infrastructure projects around the nation, and a robust GI Bill to send millions of Americans to college for free. Time to roll back the Reagan tax cuts, like they just did in France.
In screwed news, despite numerous reports suggesting that voter fraud is a non-issue and there's absolutely no evidence of non-citizens trying to vote, several red states are pushing ahead with new laws to grant voting right to only those people who have photo IDs. And a new Mother Jones report shines a light on what exactly that means. Of all the adult Americans without a photo ID – 25% are African American, 19% are Latino, 18% are young people between the ages of 18 and 24, 18% are seniors, and 15% are low–income people earning less than $35,000. Those demographics make up the majority of those without a photo-ID, and they just so happen to be the same people who tend to vote for Democrats. Plain and simple, when Republicans talk about voter ID, it's code for dumping Democratic voters from the voting rolls.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The Republicans' chances of winning Rhode Island in November just got slimmer. The state recently passed legislation forcing political organizations like SuperPACs and so-called advocacy groups to reveal their donors if they run ads within sixty days of an election. The law will apply to several organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, as well as Karl Rove and the Koch brother's political organizations, which are planning to spend a billion dollars nationwide. And it might deter these deep-pocketed oligarchs from spending money in the state if they don't want their names revealed. That means if other states pass similar laws, then it will be a lot harder for anonymous corporations, foreigners, and billionaires to buy our elections this year.
Mexico is headed for a recount in its Presidential election. The PRI party, which ran Mexico for more than four generations, looked like it was headed for an easy win – collecting 38% of the vote in the recent election. But, due to "inconsistencies" in the vote tallies, more than half of all the ballots will be recounted. The runner-up in the contest is refusing to concede defeat until after a full recount. The recount is taking place amid allegations that the PRI Party bought votes with pre-paid gift cards. According to news reports – shortly after the election, thousands of Mexico City residents went an a shopping spree with gift cards they said were given to them by the PRI Party, which is accused of spending $5 million on the gift cards. This seems obviously wrong to us, but is it really any different than the Koch brothers dropping hundreds of millions of dollars into gifts to TV stations and networks, via advertising purchases? Thanks to Citizens United, we no longer have a democracy that sets an example for the rest of the world.
A new inquiry into the Fukushima disaster revealed it wasn't just the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that are to blame for the nuclear crisis, but also collusion between the Japanese government, nuclear regulators, and TEPCO – the company that runs the Fukushima plant. The 641-page document that blasts cozy ties between government regulators and plant operators came out just as the Japanese government green-lighted the start-up of a nuclear reactor for the first time since the crisis began last March. The report argues, "Across the board, the Commission found ignorance and arrogance unforgivable for anyone or any organisation that deals with nuclear power. We found a disregard for global trends and a disregard for public safety." It also warns that Japan's 21 oldest reactors could be at similar risk for a Fukushima-like disaster, and that all reactors in the nation need strict new examinations. If regulatory capture was ultimately to blame in Japan, then we should be concerned about just how safe identically-designed reactors in the United States are – especially given the revolving door here between the NRC and the nuclear industry.
And finally...in what physicists are calling one of the biggest scientific discoveries in the last hundred years, the long-sought after Higgs Boson – also known as the "God Particle" – may have been found. Scientists at CERN have been smashing particles for the last few years in a 17-mile long atom smasher known as the Large Hadron Collider to find the missing link in the Standard Model – a particle that is believed to be responsible for giving everything in the universe its mass. This particle was first theorized in the 1960's, and scientists have been trying to confirm its existence ever since. The breakthrough announcement on Wednesday confirming its existence fundamentally changes our understanding of the universe. Of course that only applies to people who actually believe in science...sorry, Republicans.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, July 05, 2012. I'm Geoff Holtzman in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.