On the News With Thom Hartmann: Republicans in the US House of Representatives postponed all floor votes so they could hold their ninth hearing about Benghazi; The Republican National Committee wants even more money in politics; Senator Elizabeth Warren is standing up for students; Royal Dutch Shell wants to drill in waters twice as deep as BP's Deepwater Horizon; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Yesterday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives postponed all floor votes so they could hold their ninth hearing about Benghazi. Instead of working on any number of pressing issues effecting Americans, Republicans spent nine hours on a political witch hunt. Unsurprisingly, their so-called "whistleblowers," who were supposed to blow the lid off some huge conspiracy, ended up debunking many of the right-wing talking points we've heard about the attack. As the Think Progress Blog explains, yesterday's testimony made clear that F-16s could not have prevented the second wave of attacks, Hilary Clinton did not lie about diplomatic cables, and the only reason a Special Forces Team was told not to deploy to Benghazi, is that another team was already on its way. So, Republicans wasted nine hours and countless tax-payer dollars on a hearing that confirmed everything they've been told in the previous eight hearings they've held about the attack. The only thing being covered up here is the fact that last year, the GOP voted to cut the U.S. Embassy security funding by $300 million dollars. Instead of politicizing the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, House Republicans could have focused on our economy, on bringing jobs back from overseas, or reversing the austerity measures that are gutting our vital agencies. But, they won't do any of those things because there's a chance it could help President Obama. Republicans should stop wasting time and get to work on the issues most Americans actually care about. We get it – you hate the president, and want to prevent Hillary Clinton from running in 2016. Now get to work.
In screwed news... The Republican National Committee wants even more money in politics. On Tuesday, the RNC filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, arguing that there should be no annual limit on personal campaign contributions. In its next term, the Supreme Court will hear the case of McCutcheon v. The FEC, which challenges so-called "aggregate limits" on political donations. Aggregate limits are the total amount a single donor can give to all political recipients in a two-year election cycle. According to McCutcheon, and now the RNC itself, limits on political donations limit free speech rights under the First Amendment. McCutcheon's brief states, "aggregate limits penalize those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights robustly." And the RNC contends that these limits are "restrictive of campaign expression rights." This is all an extension of the "money is speech" argument, and proof the wealthy want the right to have way more speech than the rest of us. We shouldn't be opening the campaign finance floodgates wider, we should be putting a stop to the outright purchase of our politicians. If the Supreme Court won't stop it – we will. Join the fight at MoveToAmend.org.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Senator Elizabeth Warren is standing up for students. In her first bill as a U.S. Senator, Warren seeks to set student loan interest rates at the same level the Federal Reserves offers to big banks. In a speech on the Senate floor, she said, "Why not give students a break? Why not let them in on the same great deal that the big banks get?" As of July 1st, some student loan interests rates will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, but Senator Warren's bill would cut their interest rates down to less than one percent. And, she plans to mobilize students to help her push the bill through the Senate. Today, the average student graduates with more than $26,000 of debt, and the chances of finding a good paying job after college are lower then they've been in decades. In a press statement, the co-director of The Campaign for America's Future endorsed the bill, saying, "Instead of kicking students when they are down, we should end the student debt crisis." And he's right. It's time for students – instead of banksters – to get a bail out. Call your Senators today, and tell them to support Elizabeth Warren's "Bank on Students" Loan Fairness Act.
Only three years after the world's worst oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Royal Dutch Shell wants to drill in waters twice as deep as BP's Deepwater Horizon. On Wednesday, the company confirmed that it would move forward with the project to drill for oil nearly two miles beneath the surface of the Gulf. John Holowell, the executive vice president for Deepwater, Shell Upstream Americas, said, "We're excited about the opportunity," and "We're ready to execute the project." When the BP well ruptured in 2010, it took the oil giant three months to figure out how to cap it. During that time crude oil and toxic dispersants spewed into the Gulf, choking off life and destroying the local tourism industry. Now, Shell wants to drill in waters twice as deep. What is it going to take them to learn from their mistakes? The fact that Big Oil didn't learn anything from the BP Oil Disaster shows they never will, and shows exactly why we must move to cleaner, greener energy.
And finally... There's a really big tea bag in Australia... but no, Ted Cruz isn't making an international appearance. Australia's Biggest Morning Tea Company says it made a 330 pound tea bag to raise money for charity, and they're confident that their tea bag is the world's biggest. Currently, a company in Portsmouth, England holds the world record for their 260 pound tea bag, but it's dwarfed in comparison to the 9 foot tall tea bag in Australia. The company spokesman said the bag could make 100,000 cups of tea, but they won't be dunking it in any hot water because they don't have a cup big enough. He said, "That could be next year's record perhaps – the world's biggest tea cup." A giant tea bag - it finally looks like we've found something both Michelle Bachmann and Marcus Bachmann can be excited about.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, May 9, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.