In today's On the News segment: Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder called on his allies in the state legislature to immediately introduce and pass a Right-to-Work (for less) law in the state; six people are dead and more than 700 injured as clashes in Egypt enter their third week; the number of undocumented immigrants in America dropped to just over 11 million, the lowest in a decade; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Ground zero in the labor battle has moved to the Wolverine State. In a sudden move on Thursday, Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder called on his allies in the state legislature to immediately introduce and pass a Right-to-Work FOR LESS law in the state. These laws have been passed in a number of states around the nation allowing union members to opt out of paying union dues, which cripples organized labor and turns workers against each other. Aided by support from the Koch brothers-funded AstroTurf group Americans for Prosperity, Republicans in the Michigan state house and senate did as they were asked and approved the legislation. Outside, amid massive labor protests, eight people were arrested. For procedural reasons, Governor Snyder won't be able to sign the bill into law until early next week. Michigan will join Indiana as only the second state in America's manufacturing belt to have joined states like Alabama and Mississippi in screwing their workers. Despite what Governor Snyder says about this law and how "pro-worker" it is, the facts show otherwise. Workers in Right-to-Work FOR LESS states earn about $1,500 less than other workers, and also earn fewer benefits, and are victims of more workplace accidents. Union busters and CEO fat cats are the only winners in a Right-to-Work FOR LESS state. The nation is watching to see if the labor movement builds on their victories in Wisconsin and Ohio, and takes the fight to Michigan on behalf of working people.
In screwed news...The austerity-racked Eurozone just entered its second recession in four years. Meanwhile, here in the post-Obama-stimulus United States, the economy is growing. New job numbers are out, showing the economy exceeded expectations in November, and added 146,000 jobs. The unemployment rate ticked down to 7.7% - its lowest level since December 2008 – which was before President Obama took office. Economists predicted a much lower job creation number as a result of Hurricane Sandy and the looming so-called "fiscal cliff." Slowly, but surely – our economy is growing, which stands in stark contrast to the shrinking economies in the Eurozone, which were hit with conservative austerity policies. It's pretty straightforward: President Obama passed a stimulus package and spent federal dollars in 2009, while the Eurozone chose austerity. The only problem with President Obama's stimulus was that it wasn't big enough. For our economy to continue growing, we need more government spending on infrastructure and putting more teachers, cops, and firefighters back to work, and we need Republicans in Congress to get the hell out of the way.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Six people are dead and more than 700 injured as clashes in Egypt enter their third week. In response to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's power grab, opponents of the new government have taken to the streets, demanding a second revolution in Egypt. Today, huge crowds of protestors marched to the presidential palace demanding that Morsi step down. On the other side, thousands of Morsi supporters attended a funeral for two men killed in clashes, and vowed revenge against opposition forces. Revolution is never easy – and democracy is always messy... as Egyptians are learning.
Back in the U.S., pay no attention to Republican fear mongering over illegal immigration into America. According to new census data, the number of undocumented immigrants in America dropped to just over 11 million, the lowest in a decade. Demographers say the drop happened because of our weakened economy, and harsher enforcement against illegal immigrants. While Republicans claim the President has done nothing on illegal immigration, Obama has actually deported more people than any other president in history – even ripping families apart by deporting the parents of children who were born legally in the United States. America has historically been a compassionate country, not a nation driven by fear of others.
Last weekend, NBC sportscaster Bob Costas set gun nuts heads spinning when he pointed out that Kansas City Chief's linebacker Javon Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins would like still be alive if Belcher hadn't owned a gun. The NRA is firing back, saying this tragedy illustrates why America needs even more handguns! In an interview with USA Today, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said, "The one thing missing in that equation is that [Perkins] woman owning a gun, so she could have saved her life from that murderer." Once again, the NRA exploits a tragedy to push their gun agenda. In reality, when two people have a gun, conflicts turn into shoot-outs, which could have killed the couple's daughter. Guns in homes are rarely used for self-defense and actually increase the likelihood of murder and suicide in that house. We no longer need a well-regulated militia in America, which was the intent of the Second Amendment. It's time for common sense gun laws in Wild, Wild, West America.
And finally...absurdity reigns in the United States Senate. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just gave Harry Reid another reason to reform the filibuster. For the first time in known Senate history, McConnell is filibustering his own bill. On Thursday, McConnell tried to embarrass the White House and Democrats by putting forward legislation giving the President the sole authority to raise the debt ceiling, without a vote in Congress. He assumed that even Democrats wouldn't support such a measure...but he assumed wrong. Majority Leader Reid reviewed the bill, and then called for an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate, and then McConnell objected to and filibustered his own proposal! A shocked Senator Dick Durbin took to the floor and said, "I think we have reached a new spot in the history of the Senate we've never seen before...I don't know how the Republicans can say they're not abusing the filibuster after what we saw on the floor today." He's right – Senator Harry Reid may well reform the filibuster and bring sanity back to the Senate.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, December 07, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.