In today's On the News segment: Bank of America has received subpoenas from the Department of Justice looking into what role the bank may have played in the LIBOR scandal; gay rights activists held a "same-sex kiss day" at Chick-fil-A; "social welfare" organizations are the new SuperPACs; and more.
Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. New jobs numbers are out showing that for the 29th straight month in a row, the private sector added jobs. In the month of July, the economy added 163,000 jobs – slightly better than expectations. However, the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3% as more Americans are now looking for work again. There's still a lot of work to be done on the economy, especially since Republicans have blocked every attempt by President Obama to put more Americans back to work. But one thing's for sure; a Mitt Romney win in November will kill our economy. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, Mitt Romney's so-called jobs plan – which he claims will create 12 million jobs – will actually kill 360,000 American jobs in 2013 alone. That shouldn't be too surprising coming from a guy who ranked 47th in job creation as Governor of Massachusetts – and who made his fortune as a vulture capitalist laying off Americans workers and shipping their jobs off to China. Mitt Romney – the great American job killer.
In screwed news...now that House Republicans have officially claimed the mantle as the part of tax raisers – passing a massive tax hike on 15 million working class Americans this week, they've drawn the ire of religious leaders across America. Sixty faith leaders penned a letter to GOP leadership – urging them to not let tax credits expire that help working class families. In legislation voted on this week, Republicans called for the elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. In other words, Republicans repealed tax breaks for the working class, while not touching a single tax break that let's a corporation like GE pay nothing in taxes – or gives an oil corporation like ExxonMobil billions in tax subsidies. The faith leaders called the move, "simply unconscionable." Republicans like to claim the Party of moral values, but there's nothing pious about making the poor sacrifice so that the rich can get richer.
In the best of the rest of the news...
It's not the SuperPACs that are buying our elections, so-called "social welfare" organizations are. According to IRS law – 501c4 and 501c6 groups – what are known as social welfare organizations or trade associations – are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections – and not disclose a single donor – just as long as they don't explicitly call for the election or defeat of a particular politician. And since the super-rich who are trying to buy Republican politicians would rather stay in the shadows, they're increasingly using these "dark money" groups rather than SuperPACs – which do have to disclose their donors – to influence our elections. According to a new report by Demos and the U.S. PIRG – 50% of all outside spending this presidential race has come from these "dark money" groups. The top 5 "dark money" groups more than $50 million bucks on television adds so far this election, yet Americans only know where 1% of that money actually came from. For all we know, Chinese business tycoons, Saudi princes, or foreign dictators could be funneling money into our elections to help Republicans win. This is the insanity that the Supreme Court gave us in its Citizens United decision.
The LIBOR rate-rigging scandal, which has the potential to be the biggest financial scam perpetrated in the history of the world, is now reaching the shore of America. So far, only British bank Barclays has been implicated – but now Bank of America – the nation's second biggest bank – announced on Thursday it has received subpoenas from the Department of Justice, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the United Kingdom Financial Services Authority looking into what role the bank may have played in the LIBOR scandal. We now know that as much as $800 trillion in the global economy was manipulated by a handful of big banks rigging interest rates – screwing over individual consumers, small businesses, and even entire cities. Let's see if our Justice Department finally holds some banksters accountable.
Wednesday was Chick-fil-A appreciation day – an event organized by bigots like Sarah Palin and John Huckabee who want to praise the fast food restaurant chain for its hardline stance against marriage equality and funding of anti-gay hate groups. In response, today is Chick-fil-A kiss day. Gay rights activists and organizers across the nation will be flocking to Chick-fil-As today to kiss someone of the same sex. We'll see if such open displays of same-sex affection really do trigger the apocalypse as most anti-gay bigots warn.
There's more evidence that the Republican efforts to combat so-called voter fraud with new ID laws and voter rolls cleanups, is nothing more than a scam to kick Democrats off the rolls before November. According to Catalist, a company specializing in voter data, there are certain segments of the American population that are far more likely to be kicked off voter rolls than others. The data shows that people living in cities, minorities, unmarried Americans, and the young and old, are all being disproportionately targeted by Republican voter purges. Surprise, surprise – all those people tend to vote for Democrats. Catalist warned that nearly 3 million eligible voters who voted in 2008 have not been kicked off the rolls ahead of the 2012 election. And, African Americans are 1.5-times more likely to be targeted than White Americans. This isn't about voter fraud – which happens less often that people dying from their TVs falling their heads. This is plain and simple about stealing the election.
And finally...the Orleans Police Department in Vermont just lost half its fleet of squad cars. That's because a 34-year-old farmer named Roger Pion jumped in his tractor on Thursday, drove it down to the police station, and ran over 7 police cars parked out front. Pion was apparently still angry about a marijuana arrest he endured last month, so he went into full-tilt monster truck mode on the police. Pion was later arrested, but his tractor is rumored to be competing against Grave Digger and Big Foot in the coming weeks.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, August 3rd, 2012. I'm Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.