Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. President Obama challenges Congress. Last night – the President pitched his much anticipated jobs plan to a joint-session of Congress – calling on Members to immediately pass what he’s calling “The American Jobs Act” – a $447 billion proposal – filled mostly with $250 billion worth of tax cuts – with the rest of the money going toward infrastructure spending – aid to states – and an extension of unemployment benefits. The President hammered home the point that these are all proposals that have garnered bipartisan support in the past – and there’s no reason why Republicans shouldn’t support them this time around. As for how this bill will be paid for – the President outsourced that decision to the Gang of 12 – calling on them to find an addition $447 billion worth of cuts or revenue raisers in addition to the $1.5 trillion they’re already tasked with finding. But the President did say he hopes they looked toward raising revenue from the wealthiest in America – people like Warren Buffett who pay a lower tax rate than his secretary – to cover part of the cost of the jobs bill. He also called for cuts – or in his words “modest adjustments” – to Medicare and Medicaid too. As for the tone – the President was nearly pitch-perfect – and finally showing some of the fight many progressives have been waiting to see. Now the big question - will Republicans say "Yes"? If they do, they take away the President's ability to play Harry Truman and run against a do-nothing Congress, and the economy will still be in bad shape. If they say "No," they hand Obama a big club to use against them. The worst scenario? They say "yes" to parts of it, he caves in and compromises for a weaker bill, so the economy still sucks next year, but he can no longer run against Congress. This is starting to get interesting.
Men and women all across the nation are rebuilding from several natural disasters that have rocked America this year – from massive tornados in the Midwest – to unprecedented hurricanes along the East coast. So far this year – FEMA estimates that states have been hit with over $36 billion in disaster damages – and many of these states are already broke. So to help – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to pass a $6 billion emergency disaster relief bill to help those in need…but Republicans aren’t interested. Republican Senators John Cornyn and Richard Burr are echoing Eric Cantor’s demands that any disaster relief has to be offset with budget cuts elsewhere. As in – we’ll help you rebuild your flooded school – but only if you cut education funding. What makes this heartless position even more outrageous – is that these Republicans had no problem rubber-stamping nearly $50 billion to rebuild Iraq – without demanding that one penny of it is offset by spending cuts elsewhere. That’s right – Republicans would rather rebuild Iraq – than Missouri or Vermont. And these are the guys who call themselves, “patriots”??
In the best of the rest of the news…
Washington, DC and New York City are on high alert for this weekend – after U.S. officials confirmed they received a threat of a terrorist attack coinciding with Sunday’s 9/11 anniversaries. President Obama and Members of Congress were briefed on the threat – which officials warned could be a car bomb – and comes directly from the tiny fragment of what's left of Al Qaeda. That fragment largely only exists because George W. Bush refused to accept the Taliban's offer to arrest and turn over Bin Laden right after 9/11, and instead began bombing civilians in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush wanted enough "political capital" to privatize Social Security, but instead he made large parts of the Muslim world wary about us.
Yesterday marked the first meeting of the Congressional Super Congress – or Gang of 12 – and already one member of the gang is threatening to quit. Last night at a defense forum hosted by right-wing think tanks the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation – Senator Jon Kyl told people attendance that he is quitting "the committee if we are going to talk about further defense cuts.” Of course – Kyl is happy to be on the committee if they are going to talk about cuts to schools, the poor, the retired, or the unemployed. Considering that we now spend more on our military than all of the other nations in the world COMBINED – the defense budget is the obvious place to find some savings. But not for Kyle, bought and paid for by the military industrial complex.
The nation’s longest war – our drug war – is all but lost. According to new reports this week from the Department of Justice and U.S. Customs – drug use in America is increasing – drug cartels are expanding – and enforcement is lacking. The DOJ warned that Mexican drug cartels have now opened up business in over 1,000 U.S. cities – including every main population hub in the nation. The Department of Health and Human Services also released a report showing an uptick in drug use among Americans – a known consequence of soaring wealth inequality. And U.S. customs acknowledged that drug arrests along the border don’t seem to be stemming the flow of drugs into America. Our War on Drugs arrests someone every 19 seconds – mostly on simple possession charges – and cost our government more than $35 billion just last year alone. And where has all of this gotten us? Nowhere. It’s time to end the black hole that is Richard Nixon’s Drug War.
While Governor Rick Perry continues to deny the science behind global warming – his home state of Texas just experienced the hottest three months on record for any state in the history of this nation. From June through August – Texas saw an average temperature of 86.8 degrees Fahrenheit – edging out a heat record set in Oklahoma back in 1934. It’s amazing how millions in campaign contributions from big oil can make Republicans stupid about science.
Crazy Alert! It’s raining…satellite parts. Yesterday – NASA issued a warning to the world to beware of space junk hurdling toward Earth. Pieces of a 6-ton out-of-control research satellite will soon begin raining down on the planet – somewhere along the equator – but NASA admitted, “It is impossible to pinpoint just where in that zone the debris will land,” – and according to the Telegraph – there’s a 1-in-3,200 chance you could be smashed by the space junk. In a press release – NASA urged individuals who find space junk to not touch it – and immediately contact local authorities. Of course - after a week straight of rain here on the East coast – I’ll bet most residents will welcome the idea of something OTHER than rain falling from the sky for once.
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, September 9th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.