House Republicans presented their proposal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and it's a giant kick in the gut to working Americans, several law enforcement groups have asked the Senate to consider measures that will require telecom companies to store their consumers' text messages for up to two years, Democrats in the House, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are trying to force a vote on middle class tax cuts, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Someone needs to remind Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and his Party that they lost the election in November. On Monday, House Republicans presented their proposal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and – as you'd expect – it's a giant kick in the gut to working Americans. The Republican proposal extends the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans and reverses the automatic defense cuts, which could cut into the profits of war profiteers in Virginia. But Republicans claim their plan still achieves trillions in savings over the next ten years by closing unspecified tax loopholes and by slashing spending on insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare as well as public healthcare programs and other social insurance programs for working people. The Republican proposal also raises the eligibility age for Medicare two years from 65 to 67, which poll after poll has shown a large majority of Americans oppose. Altogether, Republicans ask not a single dime of the wealthy in America, while seniors, the sick, the poor, the unemployed, and the young are asked to endure cruel cuts. The White House has already rejected the Republican proposal saying it, "does not meet the test of balance." This issue should have been settled by the election, but Republicans still won't budge and the American people know it. That's why a new Washington Post poll shows that by a margin of 53% to 27%, the nation will blame Republicans more than President Obama if Congress takes us over the cliff.
In screwed news...this week the text message turned 20-years-old, and today the police want to read all of your texts. CNET is reporting that several law enforcement groups have asked the Senate to consider measures that will require telecom companies to store their consumers' text messages for up to two years, just in case cops may need to look at them down the road. These groups are hoping they can attach this provision to a new law the Senate is considering that updates decades-old privacy provisions in the new cloud-computing era. Last year roughly two trillion text messages were sent in America and each telecom company has their own policy regarding how long those texts are stored. While AT&T/Cingular does not store text messages, Verizon holds on to them for as many as five days. This latest proposal by law enforcement groups would counteract several amendments approved last week by the Senate that require law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants to read emails and other electronic communications. Several civil liberties groups like the ACLU have already come out opposing any provision requiring text messages be stored. In the past, private conversations "vanished" after you were done speaking, and letters could be burned. But now, if law enforcement gets its way, you can kiss these remnants of the 4th Amendment goodbye.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Democrats in the House, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are trying to force a vote on middle class tax cuts. The legislation, already passed by the Senate to extend the Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans, is stalled in the House of Representatives where Republican leadership is refusing to hold a vote on it out of fear that it might pass. Today, Pelosi and Democrats began circulating a discharge petition to all Members of Congress. If Democrats can get 218 signatures on the petition, then, automatically, the legislation will be brought to the floor of the House for a full vote. As Pelosi said, "The clock is ticking. The year is ending. It's really important...for it to happen now." Currently, there are 201 Democrats in the House, meaning they'll need to get 17 Republicans to sign the discharge petition, and then keep at least 17 Republicans on board with the middle class tax cuts for the law to pass. That might sound tough, but when it comes down to an actual vote to extend tax cuts for 98% of working Americans, some Republicans may just cave to the political pressure. Stay tuned.
Banks are trembling. The Huffington Post reports that four different sources on Capitol Hill have confirmed that Elizabeth Warren will indeed sit on the Senate Banking Committee next year. Republicans in the Senate were successful two years ago in blocking Elizabeth Warren from heading up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she created, but now they'll have to deal with her keeping a close eye on the banks from the Senate itself. As a member of the Banking Committee, Warren will oversee further implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street law and other financial regulations. Progressive finally have a strong ally in Washington, DC keeping an eye on the banksters.
The Feds are already clamping down on legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington state. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Monday that marijuana is still a violation of its internal drug polices and any DOT employees, regardless of whether or not they're using marijuana in compliance with state law, face suspension or termination for marijuana use. Pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, and train engineers will continue facing drug tests for marijuana. Governors in Colorado and Washington are still awaiting word from the Department of Justice on how the federal government plans to react to newly legalized marijuana in their states. Let's hope President Obama tells his Justice Department to just get out of the way.
And finally...a new poll by Public Policy Polling shows that a full quarter of registered Republicans want their states to secede from the union. Already, Republicans in every single state in the nation have filed secession petition with the White House asking for a peaceful exit from the union. In the spirit of Lincoln, we can't let the nation get torn apart. However, we can let all registered Republicans leave for the Libertarian paradise of Somalia! In fact, we can pay their way, and call it "Cash for Clunkers 2."
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, December 04, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.