In today's On the News segment: Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles will put out a new deficit-reduction plan; Illinois State Senator Toi Hutchinson dropped her bid for a congressional seat after her 92% NRA rating became the center of political ads; Gas prices have gone up 33 days in a row; The EU is taking on the Banksters, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Today, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles will put out a new deficit-reduction plan. The pair served on President Obama's fiscal commission in 2010, and presented a plan to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff – a plan that was so focused on austerity, that 350 economists co-wrote and published a letter rejecting it. And Simpson-Bowles are at it again. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new plan will aim to reduce the deficit by $2.4 trillion over 10 years, and include $600 billion in spending cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid. That's $200 billion more cuts than Obama said he's willing to accept in any plan. When Simpson-Bowles released their original plan, the AFL-CIO said "there's nothing 'fair and balanced' about the Simpson-Bowles budget plan..." and that it would, "ultimately increase unemployment, cut Social Security, tax workers' health benefits and scapegoat federal employees while giving more tax breaks for sending jobs overseas." If this new plan is just a carbon copy of the first, it's exactly the opposite of what we need to do to fix our economy, and grow the middle class. President Obama acknowledged this during his State of the Union speech saying, "we can't cut our way to prosperity." And he's exactly right. Because no nation, in the history of the world, ever has. And we shouldn't even worry about deficits when our economy is still struggling. We need to stop the Republican austerity. Call Congress today, and tell them to reject the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan.
In screwed news... About 160 million people in our country feel the pain of smaller paychecks and rising costs, so they notice when gas prices tick up a few cents at the pump. Well, those prices have gone up for 33 days straight. According to CNN, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has shot up 13% in about a month, which brings the national average to $3.73 per gallon. The Energy Information Administration says the price of crude oil has gone up 10% in the last two months, and represents about two-thirds of the price per gallon. Speculation in the market, like anticipation of higher demand and fears about the looming sequester, also drives up gas prices. And the increased demand, and higher crude prices, just help Big Oil rake in more cash – like the combined $120 billion dollars in profits the oil companies made in 2012 alone. Not to mention, these same companies are exporting so much of the gasoline refined right here in America, that they're reducing the supply, and further increasing prices for American consumers. So, why are we still subsidizing Big Oil? It's time to make Big Oil pay for making billions off our commons. Not only should they pay for extracting our oil, on our land, but we should charge them for the external costs of fossil fuels – like pollution and illness. Costs that they've passed down to consumers for years. Even better, let's invest in green energy and say "no" to Big Oil once and for all.
In the best of the rest of the news...
In the first Congressional race since Newtown, an NRA "A" rating backfired on a potential candidate. Illinois State Senator Toi Hutchinson entered the race for the Congressional seat formerly held by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, but dropped her bid after her 92% NRA rating became the center of political ads. Independence USA, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's political action committee, sponsored a $2 million ad campaign endorsing former state Rep. Robin Kelly, who supports background checks and banning assault weapons. As gun violence is a central issue in the Illinois race, Hutchinson withdrew, saying, "I am simply unwilling to risk playing a role going forward that could result in dividing our community at a time when we need unity more than ever." Thankfully, we may have another member of Congress willing to stand up to the gun lobby. The NRA doesn't represent American gun owners, they represent corporate gun manufacturers, and we need more elected officials who recognize that.
The EU is taking on the Banksters! According to Reuters, lawmakers in the European Union are in key talks to cap bonuses paid to banking executives. If they reach an agreement, banksters in the EU will be barred from bonuses that exceed their annual salary. The European Parliment wants to add the provision to the Basel Accord, which is essentially the world's regulatory response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. The bonus cap came up in response to anger from investors, and the public, about the role banksters played in the economic meltdown. As of last Thursday, Ireland refused to agree on this compensation limit, but ambassadors from 27 EU states have issued a mandate forcing that nation to comply. If only we could take on the banksters in this country, we could stop the huge bonuses for executives that played a role in our financial crisis, and hold Wall Street accountable for gambling with out economy. Now that Senator Elizabeth Warren sits on the Banking Committee, there's still hope we can make the banksters pay.
And finally... Whopper 1-2-3 probably wasn't the best password. At least, that's what the person in charge of Burger King's Twitter account may be thinking. Yesterday, the fast-food chain's Twitter feed was hacked, and someone posted tweets saying the company had been sold to McDonalds. The account picture was also replaced with an image of the Micky-D's golden arches. Some tweets from the compromised account mention the hacktivist group Anonymous, and of course, McDonalds denied any responsibility. After Twitter briefly suspended the account, Burger King soon restored its old picture and information, and all of the unauthorized tweets were deleted. No word yet on who may have been responsible for the breech, but some suspect The Hamburgler.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, February 19, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.