In today's On the News segment: Students at one of the last free universities in the United States rebel against Cooper Union's plans to start charging tuition, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Fallout continues from last week's surprise passage of a right-to-work for less law in the Michigan state legislature. Republican Governor Rick Snyder plans to sign right-to-work for less into law this week, despite previously saying he believed the law was "very divisive" and not appropriate for Michigan. So why the change of heart from Governor Snyder? The Corporate oligarchs forced him into it. In an interview with a Detroit radio station, United Auto Workers president Bob King said, "In the end, Dick Devos and the extreme right-wing control what's going on in the state...And the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity was in there... and there was a lot of money pushing for the passage of this legislation, threatening the governor, and threatening the different representatives." In other words, the corporatocracy – and not the elected democracy in Michigan – is responsible for passing the state's new right to work for less law. Meanwhile, the Detroit Free-Press, a newspaper that endorsed Snyder in 2010, has now turned on him. In a scathing editorial, the newspaper called Snyder "grotesquely disingenuous" and described his sudden push for the right to work for less law as motivated by "pure greed." Workers in Michigan must begin organizing to overturn this assault on working people in the Wolverine state.
In screwed news...Republicans just tipped their hand – they're going to use the debt ceiling to hold senior citizens on Medicare hostage. In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, prominent Senate Republican Bob Corker said Republicans plan to use the upcoming debt ceiling debate as leverage to force cuts to insurance programs like Medicare. Corker said, "The Republicans know they have the debt ceiling...The leverage is going to shift to our side where hopefully we'll do the same thing we did last time, and that is if the president wants to raise the debt limit by $2 trillion we get $2 trillion in spending reduction, and hopefully, this time it will be mostly oriented towards entitlement." Republicans have been purposefully misleading the American people about what the debt ceiling is – claiming that by raising it the President will have unlimited money to continue spending. In reality, raising the debt limit just gives the US Treasury the authority to pay off the debts that the nation has already racked up, like Bush's two wars and his Medicare Part D prescription drug program, which were never paid for. The debt-limit is about paying off the nation's credit card; not spending more money on that credit card. By using the debt-limit as a political tool, Republicans are questioning the credit of the United States, and threatening to turn us into a dead-beat nation.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Student activism is alive and well in America. Several students at New York's Cooper Union University are occupying a building at the school to protest the school's plans to start charging tuition. Cooper Union is one of the last completely free universities left in America – and has a century-old tradition of offering a college education to all of its students at no charge. But when administration at the school threatened to begin charging tuition for graduate programs, students rebelled. Supplied with plenty of food and water, student activists plan to camp out at Cooper Union's Foundation building until their school walks back its tuition plans, and restructures its board to allow for more student and faculty input. Let's wish them well, because for the last thirty years, students in America have been getting screwed and it's about time they fight back.
In corporate greed news...not only is Google one of the biggest internet search engines in the world – it's also one of the biggest corporate tax dodgers. Bloomberg News reports that Google Inc. hid nearly $10 billion in a Bermuda shell company in 2011 to avoid paying $2 billion in corporate taxes. Shockingly, there's nothing illegal about what Google did hiding 80% of its pretax profits last year in Bermuda, but it does explain why our federal government is losing much needed revenue, as corporations no longer pay their fair share in taxes. According to the Tax Justice Network, all around the world – the global oligarchs are hiding as much as $21 trillion in tax havens, to avoid contributing to their respective governments. This is what happens when greed trumps patriotism.
Across the pond, policymakers in the UK continue to ignore reality. Despite watching austerity ravage the British economy, and force the nation into a double-dip recession, the Conservative government there announced last week that it plans to extend the austerity regime for an extra year into 2018. As we've seen in other nations that have embraced austerity, like Greece and Spain, cutting spending only makes the economy worse - by sucking money out of working peoples' pockets and sucking even more revenue out of the government - making deficits even worse. In fact, thanks to austerity, the UK is projected to have the worst deficit to GDP ratio in the entire West, even after all the spending cuts. So why do Conservatives in the UK continue to embrace austerity? Because austerity isn't actually supposed to work. It's supposed to cripple working people, and force an economic crisis, so that wealthy oligarchs can swoop in, break up unions, and privatize the commons. This is disaster capitalism at work.
And finally...now that marijuana is legal in Washington state – and soon to be legal in Colorado – the American people want the federal government to get the hell out of the way. According to a new Gallup poll, 64% of respondents said they want the feds to leave the states alone and not enforce federal law that still considers marijuana illegal. Only one-third of Americans wanted the federal government to intrude on this issue. President Obama can embrace progressive reform against the Nixon's failed drug war by doing just one thing over his next term – and that's to do absolutely nothing and let Washington state and Colorado do their thing.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, December 10, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.