In today's On the News segment, Thom Hartmann discusses a letter sent by 248 economists demanding a "clean vote" on raising the debt ceiling, new evidence that the body scanners at airports are giving people cancer, new US drone strikes in Somalia, Ohio's ongoing war on organized labor, and more. Scroll down to watch the newscast.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. A group of 248 economist, six of whom are Nobel Prize winners, sent a letter to Congressional leaders yesterday demanding a clean vote to raise the debt-ceiling – arguing that failure to do so could have, “a substantial negative impact on economic growth.” The IMF issued a similar warning too. But as President Obama drew a line in the sand yesterday in debt-limit negotiations demanding that tax loopholes for millionaires, billionaires, and transnational corporations be closed – and Republicans drew a line in the sand on behalf of those tax loopholes – a debt-limit deal looks more and more unlikely. And as Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner’s debt-deadline of August 2nd draws closer – some are looking at what a post-August 2nd America looks like if the debt-limit is not raised – and it’s not pretty. While the United States may not actually default on it’s debts – it WILL have to cut off many day-to-day payments to critical programs around the country and prioritize its debts. On August 3rd – the day after the deadline – our nation will owe $32 billion – but will only have about $12 billion in revenue to pay up. That means about $20 billion will need to be cut out immediately – in just one day. But here’s the thing – figuring out which bills get paid and which ones get pushed off – is solely up to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and President Obama. So if the Republicans REALLY want to play hardball on the debt-limit – then President Obama should hold them accountable and put their states on the chopping block first. That could mean cutting off critical transportation and other federal assistance funds – and even Social Security payments – to red states represented entirely by obstructionist Republicans. While this isn’t an ideal situation – it is President Obama’s secret weapon to force Republicans to come to the table and compromise. Once folks in Eric Cantor’s Virginia district see their Social Security payments cut off – you can bet Cantor’s office will be flooded with calls from constituents demanding he raise the damn debt ceiling. Let’s put the real consequences of their obstructionism in their face – and watch the Republicans blink.
If you have to fly on a plane - you're screwed. The Electronic Privacy Information Center – EPIC – has revealed what we all knew was happening – the Michael Chertoff X-Ray porno scanners at the airport are giving people cancer. According to documents obtained by EPIC in a Freedom of Information Request – some TSA agents who work with the radiation machines daily are falling ill with cancer clusters. The Department of Homeland Security repeatedly downplayed the risk of the machines – but sadly it appears we were being lied to by Mr. Chertoff when he sold his machines – surprised? So is irradiating ourselves REALLY the best way to keep our nation safe from terrorists? No – but there sure is a lot of money in the game for security contractors like former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff - and the company that offshores their manufacture to Malaysia. And since our government has been captured by the military/security industrial complex – then expect the purchase orders for more porno cancer scanner to continue to rise – and the cases of cancer to rise too.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and now…Somalia. A US military official confirmed yesterday that a drone attack was launched on two leaders of a Somalia militant group last week – bringing the total number of nations that our military is dropping bombs on to six. There are reports that US Special Forces have for some time been conducting missions in Somalia against the militant organization known as Al Shabab that’s allegedly affiliated with Al Qaeda – but last week’s attacks mark the first time drones were used and bombs were dropped – a clear indications that military efforts in that nation are escalating. Soon – it will be easier to list all the nations in the Arab world that we are NOT currently at war with, than listing all the ones we ARE fighting with. Unfortunately, military misadventure is a sign of an empire in decline.
Republicans in Ohio really stepped in it. Only three months after Governor John Kasich and his Republican cohorts in the state legislature passed a harsh anti-union law stripping public employees of their rights to collectively bargain – over a million Ohioans signed a petition to repeal the new anti-union law. The group “We Are Ohio” needed 231,000 signatures from Ohio voters to put repeal of Senate Bill 5 on the ballot in a November election. The group got more than five times that amount – turning in close to 1.3 million signatures to Ohio’s Secretary of State to verify the names. A Spokesperson for “We Are Ohio” said, referring to the petition drive, “This historic number of signatures sends a strong, clear message to the extreme politicians who played political tricks to pass SB 5.” Widespread voter remorse is sweeping the country because of to the right wing’s radical anti-worker, pro-billionaire agenda. Let’s hope it carries into the 2012 elections – and we put an end to the Republican war against working people for good.
A federal appeals court gave President Obama another victory in the battle over his health reform law. In a 2-1 ruling – judges argued that the individual mandate is indeed constitutional under the commerce clause. So far – two lower courts have also upheld the Affordable Care Act, whereas two other lower courts have ruled against it. This latest decision is the first time a federal appeals court has weighed in on the matter. Ultimately – the US Supreme Court will have the final say. And considering that the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas makes her paycheck fighting for repeal of health reform – and the rest of the right-wing bloc on the High Court is in the pocket of corporations and refuses to follow the Judicial Code of Ethics and recuse themselves in cases involving self-interest – it’s going to be an uphill battle for health reform in America.
As President – what’s one of the first things we can expect Michele Bachmann to do? Get rid of the minimum wage. In an interview yesterday – Bachmann suggested that the minimum wage kills job growth and needs to be eliminated. Of course, the current minimum wage – somewhere between seven and eight dollars depending on where you live - is already not nearly enough to cover the expenses necessary to live a basic life – from putting a roof over your head – to feeding and clothing yourself. But I guess this is Bachmann’s idea of jobs program. After all – if she kills the minimum wage then who knows how many foreign transnational corporations will set up shop in America – as they do in Bangladesh now – looking for cheap labor. Michele Bachmann’s America - a nation of serfs and peons. Ronald Reagan would be proud.
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, June 30th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.