Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. President Obama is summoning Congressional leaders to the White House today for another round of debt-limit negotiations and he’s advised Republicans to “check their ultimatums at the door.” The President is trying to pitch a $4 trillion deficit reduction package over the next 10 years – that slashes away at programs mostly affecting the working class and even cuts up the social safety net in America – trimming $400 billion from Medicare and Medicaid. All of these tough cuts will be in exchange for closing a few tax loopholes for corporations, millionaires, and billionaire. Ultimately, President Obama’s deal is heavy on spending cuts, light on tax hikes. But don’t expect Republicans to like the deal – they’d rather crash the Americans economy than see tax rates for their millionaire and billionaire campaign donors go up a measly 3% - to where they were under Bill Clinton when we had a budget surplus and created 23 million jobs. Right now – government revenue in America is at a 60-year-low – and Republicans are refusing to acknowledge that our government is going broke because of 3 decades of Reagan’s “starve the beast” economics and an army of corporate lobbyists that have blown holes in the tax code. We don’t have a spending problem in America – we have a revenue problem – and a debt-limit deal needs to focus on this reality. Roll back the Reagan tax cuts – and make billionaires hedge fund managers on Wall Street - who pay less in taxes than their janitor – cough up their fair share like the rest of us. That’s what shared sacrifice looks like.
Workers in Wisconsin are screwed…what else is new? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is transforming the workforce in his state. Not only did Walker bust up public unions – but also he took away their power to declare certain jobs around the state as “union-only work” – meaning the state can now bring in private employees willing to work for less money and less benefits – creating a race-to-the-bottom in the labor force. And Walker has already hit rock bottom in that race. Since Walker’s new law went into effect – Racine County in Wisconsin has called up prison inmates who work for no money and no benefits to do work that unions used to do like landscaping and maintenance around the county. I guess this is Walker’s idea of deficit reduction – employing free prison slave labor. Let’s hope Congressional Republicans don’t get any ideas from their hero in Wisconsin.
In the best of the rest of the news…
The National Bureau of Economic Research has released a report that shows just how important Medicaid is to the well-being of our nation. The study found that individuals on Medicaid were 35% more likely to see a doctor and 15% more likely to have access to prescription drugs. Also – Medicaid recipients were 30% more likely to be admitted into a hospital – and women on Medicaid were 60% more likely to seek preventative care like mammograms. With better access to the healthcare system thanks to Medicaid – individuals were 25% more likely to say their health was in excellent conditions. Despite all that though – Republicans in Congress as well as Republican Governors around the country are trying to dismantle Medicaid. The idea that a government program is actually improving the lives of millions makes them sick.
Is wealth inequality in America hurdling our nation toward civil unrest? In a television interview this morning – former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski warned that the growing wealth imbalance in America – now reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression – could lead to civil unrest in the streets. As the middle-class in America falls deeper and deeper into desperation – Brzezisnki said, “we’re going to slide into intensified social conflicts, social hostility, some forms of radicalism, there is just going to be a sense that this is not a just society.” We have a society in which 400 Americans own more wealth that 150 million other Americans. We have a society in which 50% of all the children in America will depend on food stamps at some point in their life before they are 18 – and among African American children that number is 90%. We no longer live in a just society - and if Brzezinski is right - turbulent times could be ahead for America.
No more rewards for bad behavior. Federal regulators at the FDIC approved a new plan yesterday that holds Wall Street CEOs accountable if they run their banks into the ground. Under the new authority given to the FDIC – federal regulators can take back those fat paychecks to CEOs in the event that their bank collapsed and needs to be liquidated. Back in 2008 – we saw over and over again – corporate executive running from the wreckage of their failing banks with their pockets filled to the brim in bonus cash. But this new policy by the FDIC ensures that the executives who screwed their corporation and their shareholders with risky gambling – now have to go down with the ship.
Is Rupert Murdoch’s media empire crumbling? As a phone-hacking scandal that British Prime Minister David Cameron described as “absolutely disgusting” threatens to take down Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid in the UK - NewsCorp’s shares are plummeting and British lawmakers are calling for a crackdown on Murdoch’s many media holdings in the country. With the turmoil overseas – Murdoch is focusing on his detractors here in the states – namely MediaMatters – the non-profit media watchdog. Over the last ten days – Murdoch’s Fox so-called News has run over 30 segments attacking MediaMatters – and is mobilizing viewers to flood the IRS with petitions to strip MediaMatters of their non-profit tax-exempt status. The British have had enough with Murdoch’s perversion of the media – and sensing the United States might be turning on him too – Murdoch is going after the truth-tellers like MediaMatters. I sense desperation…
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, July 7th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.