In today's On the News segment: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – who also chairs the President's mortgage fraud task force – filed a civil suit against JP Morgan Chase for "widespread fraud in the sale of mortgage-backed securities, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Romney's list of potential nominees for Treasury Secretary includes John Thain, Donald Trump is in the process of building a brand new golf course in the Bronx – and he's managed to get the city of New York to hand over $97 million in taxpayer money to help him build it, and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the news...
You need to know this. The banksters' blatant fraud in the run-up to the financial crisis hasn't gone unnoticed by one top lawyer in the nation. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – who also chairs the President's mortgage fraud task force – filed a civil suit against JP Morgan Chase for "widespread fraud in the sale of mortgage-backed securities." This is the first legal action brought against the banks by this taskforce. Most of the allegations are actually again failed bank Bear Stearns, which was bought by JP Morgan Chase just before the economy went into meltdown in 2008. According to the lawsuit – banksters at Bear Stearns knowingly sold defective loans and mortgage backed securities and kept their investors in the dark about how crummy these deals were. Just like banksters at Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns' banksters openly bragged to each other about how bad the deals were and how much their customers are getting screwed. Officials within Schneiderman's office are suggesting that JP Morgan Chase is just the first in a long line of banks that could be hit with similar lawsuits. Yes, going after the banks with lawsuits for their fraud is a good thing. But we need to go a step further – instead of civil lawsuits – we need criminal prosecutions. The only way to stop these billionaire predators from crashing our economy again – is to send some suits to jail.
In screwed news...speaking of bailed-out banksters – Romney reportedly wants one to head up the Treasury Department. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Romney's list of potential nominees for Treasury Secretary includes John Thain. So, who is John Thain? Well, he's the former CEO of failed bank Merrill Lynch – which was purchased by Bank of America during the financial collapse for pennies on the dollar. In 2008 – Thain's bank lost $11 billion – leaving it unable to operate without outside help. At the same time, Thain lobbied the bank's board of directors to hand him a $10 million bonus for presiding over the bank's ruin. In other words – he's the perfect guy for a Mitt Romney administration – someone who disembowled his own businesses – laid off workers – racked up debt – and then walked away with bags full of ten million dollars in cash. It's what Romney did to businesses taken over by Bain Capital – it's what Thain did at Merrill Lynch – and it's what they both will do to America should Mitt Romney win in November.
In the best of the rest of the news...
A big victory for voters in Pennsylvania. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled today that the state's Republican-backed Voter Suppression ID law cannot go into effect before the November election. After two days of arguments, the state failed to prove that the new law wouldn't disproportionately affect minority and low-income voters – people who tend to vote for Democrats. That was, of course, why Republicans in that state first passed the law – as the top Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania – Mike Turzai - bragged that his Voter Suppression ID law would help Mitt Romney win the state. So at least the Republican strategy to rig the election in Pennsylvania has fallen short. Unfortunately – there are several other states where similar efforts by Republicans are still rolling along. And ultimately – this issue will likely be settled by the Supreme Court in the near future – a court whose right-wing members have already ruled, 5 to 4, that Americans do not have a fundamental right to vote.
With polls turning against them, Republicans are getting desperate in their attacks on President Obama. With the help of their mouthpiece, Fox so-called News – Republicans have been hammering President Obama over the last few weeks about his administration's handling of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. With hours of coverage devoted to the story – Fox is hoping to paint the President as weak or incompetent on foreign policy. And on Monday – Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn appeared on Fox to equate the President's handling of Libya to Watergate. But so far – these attacks haven't worked for Republicans. According to a new Washington Post poll – President Obama has a 14-point lead over Romney when it comes to who Americans trust more to handle terrorism. And a recent Politico poll gives President Obama a 52% to 40% advantage on foreign policy. But don't expect Republicans to change tack anytime soon, and if he's re-elected, expect the Republicans to try to impeach him like they did Clinton. It's what Republicans do, after all.
Meet Donald Trump – a man dependent on government welfare. Trump is in the process of building a brand new golf course in the Bronx – and he's managed to get the city of New York to hand over $97 million in taxpayer money to help him build it. That's not exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from a guy whose political allies rail against those Americans dependent on government. To make matters worse – 30% of residents in the Bronx live below the poverty line – and are in much higher need of public investment than the Donald. Sure – a lot of Americans feel "entitled" to things like food and healthcare – as they should – this is the richest nation on the planet. But unlike Trump – these Americans don't feel "entitled" to golf courses like he does.
And finally...Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren squared off in their second debate in Massachusetts with a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs. And despite Brown claiming to be a moderate, we learned he's actually a far right ideologue. In the highlight of the night – Brown claimed his model Supreme Court Justice was Antonin Scalia – one of the most corrupt, extreme judges in the history of the High Court. That answer elicited an uproar of boos from the audience. Scalia is one of the most radical, corporatist judges to ever sit on the bench – and he's also one of the most unethical...remember his hunting trips with Dick Cheney? So if Scott Brown thinks Scalia is a model judge – then it's clear his priorities aren't in line with the state of Massachusetts. Let's hope voters recognize this.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.