In today's On the News segment: The New Jersey State Assembly signed a resolution to support amending the Constitution to get rid of the Citizens United ruling; after winning the Nobel Prize, the European Union is trying to force indebted nations to privatize critical natural resources; the new revolving door is at Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news ...
You need to know this. The movement to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, declare that money is not speech and corporations are not people received a big boost on Thursday. The New Jersey State Assembly signed on to a resolution expressing "strong opposition" to Citizens United and called on Congress to amend the Constitution to get rid of the ruling. New Jersey now becomes the ninth state to support amending the Constitution to prevent corporations, millionaires, and billionaires from buying our elections. Already, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont have adopted similar resolutions. With more outside money being poured into this election that ever before, now is the time to make your state the next state to join this fight against the corporatocracy – go to MoveToAmend.org.
Homeowners got screwed by Wall Street – now they're getting screwed by their state governments. Earlier this year – homeowners won a $25 billion settlement against some of the nation's largest mortgage lenders. That money was sent to the states, where it was supposed to be funneled down to struggling homeowners, to prevent more foreclosures. But a new report by the nonprofit organization Enterprise Community Partners – states are instead using that money to plug budget holes and fund pet projects. In fact – more than half of the money allocated to the states so far has not gone to homeowners. For example, in South Carolina, the state legislature has instead siphoned off that money to fund incentives for corporations to move to the state. And in Georgia, Republicans have directed nearly all of the $99 million in settlement money for homeowners to a vague economic development program. Homeowners desperately need help – and the housing crisis continues to weigh down our economic recovery. It's time for state governments to get their priorities straight.
In the best of the rest of the news ...
The Nobel Prize winning European Union is trying to force indebted nations to privatize critical natural resources. The European Commission is insisting that privatization of municipal water supplies must be a condition to receive future bailouts. As in, if nations like Greece, Portugal, and Spain want to receive bailouts in the future – then they have to hand of their most critical resources – like water – over to transnational corporations to run for profit. Several organizations including Food & Water Europe and the Blue Planet Project have pushed back against these demands. As the Directors of European Affairs with Food & Water Europe said about the privatization demands, "This really demonstrates how the Commission has lost touch with reality. Their ideological arguments are not based on substantiated facts and goes to the extreme of ignoring the democratic will of the people." A letter has been sent to the Vice President of the European Commission, calling for the privatization plan to be ditched. The battle happening right now – and well into the future – will be over our commons. And we must make sure that "We the people" remain the stewards of our commons – and not transnational corporations looking to exploit resources for a profit.
For the second time in five months, the courts have endorsed marriage equality. A federal appeals court in New York voted 2-to-1 to rule that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and violates the rights of same-sex married couples. Under the Defense of Marriage Act – known as DOMA – marriage is defined as between a man and a woman, and no state has to recognize same-sex marriages from different states. DOMA forbids same-sex couples from receiving the same federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive. The Obama Administration has stopped even trying to defend DOMA in the courts, so now Republicans in Congress are using taxpayer dollars to continue defending the discriminatory law. There are currently six appeals related to marriage equality pending before the Supreme Court making it very likely that the court will take up this issue at some point during their current term. Stay tuned – for equal rights hang in the balance.
More allegations of election fraud against the Republican Party. A voter registration supervisor contracted by the Republican Party of Virginia was arrested on Thursday for destroying voter registration applications. Thirty-one-year-old Colin Small was caught throwing away a bag of filled-out voter registration forms in a dumpster. Police say the crime appears "limited in nature" but additional charges may be filed in the future. Already, the Republican National Committee is dealing with allegations of election fraud after it hired a firm known as Strategic Allied Consulting to register voters in key swing states. That firm was found to commit widespread fraud by destroying or tampering with voter registration forms filled out by Democratic voters. At least 11 counties in Florida have discovered tampered registration forms handled by the firm. It's clear that one political party has a vested interest in keeping as many voters from the polls as they possibly can. As former Republican strategist Paul Weyrich pointed out, Republicans chances of winning go up when the voting population goes down.
And finally ... the new revolving door is at Mitt Romney's campaign headquarters. Back in August, the Romney campaign hired Pierce Scranton to be their economic policy director. Well it turns out that just three months ago – Scranton was a lobbyist for Wall Street pushing to repeal Dodd-Frank and cut taxes for banksters. That might be one reason why Romney has taken a hardline stance on repealing all of Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform – as well as keeping the capital gains tax exploited by many banksters lower than what average working people pay in taxes. Yet more proof that Mitt Romney is indeed Wall Street's favorite candidate.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, October 19th, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.