In todays On the News Segment: Republicans, having failed at ousting President Obama, must now compromise on economic reform by taxing the rich, or risk political suicide; While Democrats gained an advantage in the Senate, they are still outnumbered in the House of Representatives, primarily due to gerrymandering done by Republicans in 2010; A Hart Research study showed that minority voters suffered much longer lines and more obstacles on Election Day than white voters; and More.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. It's time to tax the rich. That's the essence of what Vice President Joe Biden said following the Democrats' big wins on Election night. Speaking to a pool of reporters on Wednesday, Biden said Democrats clearly have a "mandate" on tax reform. And this issue of taxes will have to be settled soon, as Congress returns for its lame duck session next week and the so-called fiscal cliff looms at the end of the year. Democratic Senator Patty Murray, who was the architect of the Democrats election strategy in the Senate, argued that Democrats now have a much stronger hand after the election as they head into negotiations with Republicans over what to do about the expiring Bush tax cuts and automatic spending cuts coming down the pike. Murray told reports, "If we can't get a good deal—a balanced deal that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share—then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013." In other words, Democrats aren't caving this time. Unless the Republican Party is still living in an alternate reality – which is likely – they have to accept that they failed at making President Obama a one-term President by stifling the economy. They should take Tuesday's election as a rejection of their obstructionist agenda and strike a deal with Democrats to raise taxes on the wealthy. If they don't – and if they continue their economy-crashing agenda – then they're committing political suicide and, tragically, risk taking the country down with them.
In screwed news...while it was indeed a big night for Democrats, it should have been even bigger. They should have won back the majority in the House of Representatives as well. As legal reporter Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress notes – of the total votes cast and counted in US House races around the nation, Democrats received more than a half-million more votes than Republicans. In Pennsylvania, President Obama won by 5-points, but Democrats only won 5 of the state's 18 Congressional districts. Same in Virginia where Obama won yet Democrats only won 3 of 11 House districts. And the same in Florida. Why? Because in 2010, when Republicans took power in many state legislatures – they gerrymandered the heck out of their states – isolating and neutralizing huge regions of Democratic voters. And, with a 5-4 decision, the hard-right extremists on our Supreme Court let them get away with it – despite it clearly being a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments by discriminating against minority voters. But at least we kept a Democratic President, so when any of the Conservative Justices retire Obama can shift the balance on the court and revisit this issue of gerrymandering to make sure "we the people" actually get what we voted for in the future.
In the best of the rest of the news...
President Obama won, but that doesn't mean voter suppression efforts by Republicans weren't effective. A Hart Research study found that Democratic voters - and minorities in particular - faced much, much longer lines and waiting times to vote than white Republican voters. Only 9% of Romney supporters said they waited thirty minutes or more to vote on Election Day, but 16% of Obama supporters – nearly double – were forced to wait more than thirty minutes. Looking at demographics, only 9% of white voters also said they waited more than thirty minutes to vote. But 22% of African Americans and 24% of Latinos waited longer than thirty minutes. These long lines were particularly on display late into the night in voter suppression states like Virginia and Florida. The media called the race just after 11 pm Tuesday, but it could have been a much earlier night without these restrictions to voting in Democratic areas. Plain and simple, Republicans have rigged an election system that makes it much easier for white Republicans to vote. As the President said in his victory speech, "we need to change that." It's time for a federal right to vote in America.
Greece's descent into economic chaos and social revolt continues. On Wednesday, a hundred thousand protesters took to the streets of Athens and surrounded the Parliament building where members were voting on yet another new round of austerity measures to extract money from Greek working people and give it to banksters. Protesters hurled fire bombs at the building while riot police turned their tear gas and water cannons on the crowds. These actions coincide with a nationwide strike against "starve the beast" austerity that's halted transportation services, closed schools and banks, and shutdown government operations. This latest round of austerity totaling more than 13 billion euros is expected to further drag the Greek economy into a black hole and make it even more difficult for Greece to pay its debts. Here in the United States, we narrowly avoided a similar fate when Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan promised to bring the same "starve the beast" austerity here. They lost, but don't expect Republicans to give up. Whether they're calling it "Starve the Beast" as they did in the 1980's or austerity as they are today, Republicans want to kill government. And Greece should serve as a lesson to all of us of what happens if Republicans do win.
And finally...not everyone around the world is happy with President Obama's re-election. As Agence-France reports – American flags are in high demand in Pakistan...to be burned. A recent BBC survey found that every nation polled was pulling for President Obama to win the election. Every nation except Pakistan that is, which has received the brunt of US drone strikes under President Obama's administration. As the owner of a flag business in Pakistan told reporters, "When the drone strikes increase, the protests against these strikes will also increase in Pakistan and it can have an impact on the flags and poster business." Our ongoing drone war was ignored by many during the President's first term. We can't afford to ignore it during his second-term. Let's organize and force the President to abandon this ruthless policy, before the blowback gets worse.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, November 08, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.