In today's On the News segment: Occupy Buffalo protesters convinced their city to end its business ties with JPMorgan Chase - and move $45 million out of the Wall Street giant and into a local bank, research concludes that simply eliminating the cap on federal payroll taxes would make Social Security solvent, Spain looks like it will be the next domino to fall in the euro zone crisis, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. For the 27th month in a row – the economy added jobs. Unfortunately – the 69,000 jobs created in May were well below economists' expectations – and the unemployment rate jumped up to 8.2%. And while Republicans and Fox so-called News will likely rejoice over the poor jobs numbers thinking it will give them a better chance in the November elections – the truth is – they're really patting themselves on the back for slowing down our economic recovery. Hell-bent on austerity – Republicans have sucked money out of the economy – cut off unemployment benefits, and investments in education, healthcare, and transportation. As economist Paul Krugman has pointed out, Republicans during the Reagan administration didn't cut government and spending during the recession of the 1980's – they GREW government and increased spending. And if today's Republican Party would just let President Obama do what Reagan did – then there would be 1.3 million more Americans today working as school teachers, cops, and firefighters – critical jobs that our nation needs right now. And our unemployment rate would be below 7%. So what's the difference between today and when Reagan was office? Republicans weren't trying to crash the economy to make Reagan a one-term President.
In screwed news...Spain looks like it will be the next domino to fall in the Eurozone crisis. Over 100 billion euros have left the country in the first three months of this year – that's more than a tenth of Spain's GDP. Fears are growing that just like Greece – Spain will soon need a euro bailout. But unlike Greece – Spain is a huge economy – the fourth biggest in Europe – meaning a bailout would be a lot more expensive – and a default would be catastrophic for the euro. Meanwhile in Ireland – voters took to the polls to approve a new EU treaty that requires Ireland and other Eurozone nations to meet budget deficit goals through brand new austerity measures. Polls indicate the treaty will likely pass – however results aren't expected until this evening.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The Justice Department has finally decided to get involved in the ongoing illegal voter purge in Florida. On Thursday – the DOJ sent a letter to Florida's Secretary of State – demanding an end to Governor Rick Scott's crusade to kick Democratic voters off the rolls. The DOJ informed Florida that it is in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. Local election supervisors in Florida have been speaking out about how many errors are in Governor Scott's list of voters who should be purged from the rolls. And the Miami Herald published a study showing that most people targeted are minorities and Democratic voters. What's going on in Florida is blatantly obvious – Republican Governor Rick Scott was doing all he could to rig the election before November and deliver the Sunshine State to fellow Republican Mitt Romney, just like Jeb Bush and Kathleen Harris did for George Bush in 2000.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research is out with a new study on how to fix Social Security. While Republicans push cutting benefits, raising the retirement age, and privatizing the program altogether – the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that simply eliminating the cap on federal payroll taxes would make Social security solvent – and paying out full benefits – for the next 75 years. Currently – Americans only pay Social security taxes on their first $110,100 – meaning most working Americans pay the tax on their full income – while Romney-level super-rich Americans pay the tax only on a small part of their income. Lifting the cap – and making millionaires and billionaires pay the same share in Social Security taxes as working people would only affect 6.8% of American workers. So what plan is better for America? The Republican plan of raising the retirement age so you have to work into your 70's? Or lifting the cap – forcing Mitt Romney to pay the same Social Security tax rate as working Americans – so that we can all enjoy a decent retirement?
The Wisconsin recall election is heading into the homestretch – with only 4 days until voters hit the polls to determine the fate of Governor Scott Walker and his war on working people. And Democrats are getting a boost in the final days as former President Bill Clinton heads to town to rally voters in support of Walker's challenger – Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Polls show Walker leading a by a couple points, thanks in large part to his huge spending advantage – outspending Barrett $30 million to $4 million. But Democrats hope that a better ground game will turn voters out to the polls on Tuesday and give Walker the boot. This is a call to action to all Americans in and around Wisconsin – get active and organize, because working people need your help.
Speaking of getting active – it works! Occupy Buffalo protestors on Thursday convinced their city to end its business ties with JP Morgan Chase – and move $45 million out of the Wall Street giant and into a local bank – First Niagara Financial Group. As the Buffalo city comptroller said about the move: "Not only will the funds earn more interest with First Niagara, a major local employer headquartered in Buffalo, but it also sends a crystal-clear message to JPMorgan Chase that the City of Buffalo is not happy with their business practices." One of the great successes of the Occupy movement since it began this year is convincing Americans, businesses, and entire cities to move hundreds of millions of dollars out of Wall Street banks and into local banks. Let's keep it up.
And finally...meet the politician formerly known as Eddie Gonzalez – and now known as VoteforEddie.com. That's right – Gonzalez – who is running for Congress in Florida's 25th Congressional District, legally changed his name to VoteforEddie.com – so his name will appear on the ballot just like that. VoteforEddie.com says his top priority is "ending America's addiction to oil." But he'll likely do very little to end Americans addiction to the Internet.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, June 01, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news...