In today's On the News segment: The state of Florida announced on Monday that it is filing a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, British voters are worried their country could be next European country hit by economic crisis, Sen. Jeff Merkley is telling his fellow Democrats in Congress not to budge on letting the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year, Republicans are trying to crash the economy so Obama won't get re-elected, and more.
You need to know this. Get your lawsuits ready – the state of Florida announced on Monday that it is filing a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to gain access to a federal database of undocumented immigrants so the state can continue its illegal purge of Democratic voters. In response, the Department of Justice said it is suing the state of Florida for violating the Voter Registration Act and the Voting Rights Act by continuing its voting purge after the DOJ demanded the state stop last week. Several county election supervisors in Florida – many of them Republicans – have come out against Governor Rick Scott's lawsuit – arguing that it's just an effort by the Governor and Secretary of State to improve their image. And every single local country election supervisor has refused to comply at a local level with Governor Scott's purge. A new poll shows a majority of voters in Florida oppose Governor Scott's purge – and his own approval rating has plummeted to 31%. But Governor Scott knows what the rest of the Republican Party knows – and that's that polls don't matter – votes matter. And if enough Democratic voters can get kicked off the rolls – then Mitt Romney will win in November – and Governor Scott will be re-elected a few years after.
In screwed news...as crippling austerity pushes Greece to the brink, and leaves Spain in need of a bailout, which could threaten the entire Eurozone – British voters are worried their country could be next. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron brought austerity to the UK in 2010 – and has since seen virtually no economic growth. And now a new poll shows that 73% of British voters think their country is "moving in the wrong direction." The poll, which was commissioned by the International Trade Union Confederation, also found that voters across the G20 felt their respective nations were in trouble - with 56% of respondents saying their nation is also heading in the wrong direction. Also – roughly two-thirds of those polled in the G20 said that banks, financial institutions, and corporations had too much influence on their government's economic decisions. The U.N. is also weighing in on the austerity agenda in a new report that says Europe is in a "vicious circle" of high unemployment, debt, and austerity. The report urges government to move away from austerity and instead promote growth and job creation, which appears to be finally happening in places like France and Greece. But in the United States – Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are doubling-down on austerity – to crash the economy and hurt Obama's re-election chances.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Senator Jeff Merkley is telling his fellow Democrats in Congress not to budge on letting the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. In an interview with TPM, Senator Merkley said, "I've encouraged my team to realize that we have lots of leverage on this. This is not a situation where you go to the table and you're desperate to get a deal." What Senator Merkley understands is that Democrats have the upper hand in the looming tax fight at the end of the year, if they just let all the Bush tax cuts expire on December 31st – and then immediately introduce legislation to extend the tax cuts just for the middle class and dare Republicans to vote against it. Realizing they may be cornered – millionaire lobbyist and anti-tax master Grover Norquist warned Republicans that if they let the Bush tax cuts expire – then he'll call it a violation of his no tax increases pledge. So at the end of the year – Republicans will have a choice. They can honor their oath to the Constitution – or honor their oath to lobbyist Grover Norquist.
Meet Republican Senate candidate from Hawaii – Linda Lingle. And tune in to channel 110 to see everything you need to know about Lingle's campaign. That's right – for this first time in American political history – a candidate has launched her own TV channel to feature "issue" videos and live streams of political events. The Linda Lingle channel can be seen in 95% of Hawaiian households – and the campaign is spending $12,000 in the channel's first week – though she likely could have gotten a better deal if she just sucked up to Fox so-called News for favorable media coverage – like Republican politicians at a national level do. When political candidates start buying entire TV channels for their campaigns, it means that politics in America has become a game where only those with access to the super-rich can play. There is no level playing field now, making it impossible for the everyday person to run for any major office. We need a public financing system of election – like they have in Germany, Canada, Japan, and the UK, where ideas elect candidates – and not money.
Despite the Fukushima nuclear crisis being far from resolved – Japan is close to restarting nuclear reactors that have been turned off since the earthquake and tsunami last year. Over the weekend, a local safety commission approved the restart of two reactors in Western Japan – and the Japanese Prime Minister hinted that he intends to start up several more of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors once he gets confirmation that they are safe. Thousands of protestors assembled outside the Prime Minister's Tokyo home after the decision chanting, "No to restarting nuclear plants." A recent Pew Research poll finds that 70% of the Japanese populations think their country needs to ditch nuclear power.
And finally...I've been saying it for a year – now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is saying it – and finally the American people are saying it: Republicans are trying to crash the economy so Obama won't get re-elected. A new poll released today by Public Policy Polling finds that 49% of Americans – including half of all independents – believe Republicans are "intentionally stalling efforts to jumpstart the economy" to win big in November. Call it politics or call it treason – Republicans just don't give a damn about the millions of Americans who are living in crisis today.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, June 12, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.