Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. After a weekend of frantic negotiations – and one week to go until default – Congress has yet to come up with a plan to raise the debt-limit. And as we approach a doomsday economic scenario – it looks like Republicans are poised to come out on top. In an effort to protect entitlements like Social Security and Medicare at all costs – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled his own debt-limit plan that includes $2.7 trillion in cuts mostly targeting working families – with not one shiny penny of taxes raised on millionaires and billionaires as part of shared sacrifice. After releasing his plan – Reid called out Speaker of the House John Boehner asking him to abandon his plan to make the cuts short-term so the President will have to fight the battle again during the election next year. I suppose bipartisan compromise nowadays means Republicans getting everything they want and Democrats only get to prevent an economic meltdown but still have to screw their base. Still – prospects of a deal are dim as Republicans in the House are working on a short-term deal even though Reid and President Obama have called a short-term debt-limit increase that brings it all back up during the election a non-starter. This is political hardball by the Republicans and they are hell-bent for leather to make sure that the Democrats both anger their own base, AND have to fight the battle again next year going into the Presidential elections. It's all about politics for the Republicans.
4,000 FAA workers are screwed because of another Republican stunt. Last Friday at midnight – 4,000 workers were told not to bother coming into work because Congress failed to pass legislation to keep the Federal Aviation Administration fully funded. Not only are 4,000 workers out of a job – but also over $2.5 billion in airport construction around the nation will grind to a halt – costing many thousands more construction jobs too. And as long as this funding impasse continues in Congress – our government will miss out on critical revenue – about $200 million a week in uncollected airline ticket taxes. And all of this happened because House Republicans insist that if the FAA continues they have to get rid of their unions. Rather than a clean bill to keep the agency running – Republicans last week passed a bill soaked with anti-union language that makes it harder for federal air and rail workers to unionize – something the Senate refused to sign on to. A few months back – Republicans brought our government to the verge of shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding. Now – they’re bringing our nation to the verge of default over tax loopholes for corporate jet owners. And in this case – they’re shutting down the FAA as part of their larger war on unions. Welcome to Republican rule in Congress – of, by, and for the billionaires and to hell with the working people.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Norway is in mourning after Friday’s terrorist attacks that killed more than 90 people – including more than 80 people gunned down on a remote island campsite. Shortly after the attack – Conservatives here in the United States pointed to Norway’s lack of a state security complex as a reason why they were vulnerable to a terrorist attack. But now we realize Islamic terror had nothing to do with Friday’s chaos in the Nordic nation. The man in custody for the attacks is Ander Behring Breivik – a white Christian Fundamentalist who was lashing out against Norway’s Labour Party for their progressive approach to immigration and social welfare. This is the same sort of right-wing terrorism that Republicans bashed the Obama Administration for warning the nation about back in 2009. And it’s the same sort of terrorism that’s far more prevalent here in the United States than Islamic terrorism – but the threat is largely ignored because the Fox News hate machine has whipped up so much fear against Muslims – that other threats are inconceivable to the American people.
Banksters are reacting to the dysfunction on Capitol Hill and the stock market is poised for a rocky week with no debt-limit deal. But how are Main Street Americans reacting to Congress’ failure to come up with a plan? Let’s just say with a giant middle finger. The Twitter universe exploded over the weekend with people posting their thoughts about Congress under the hash tag….let’s just call it “F-you Washington.” Among some of the notable tweets: ”’F-you Washington’” for sending our soldiers on 6, 7, 8 tours to combat zones yet thinking it's too much to ask the richest to pay taxes" say another.” The American people are starting to wake up to the fact that Congress is no longer looking out for the best interests of the nation. And the only way to turn that around is to kick corporate money out of politics.
Go to war – then come home and be forgotten – that’s the story of our nation’s veterans. According to the Department of Labor – the unemployment rate for male veterans between he ages of 18 and 24 is a disturbing 28% - more than one in four soldiers can’t find a job after coming from war. And with more Republican-backed spending cuts coming down the pike that will further weaken our economy – expect that number to grow. This troubling statistic points to one conclusion – it’s time for a new GI Bill. After World War 2 – our nation had a much larger debt problem than we have today – and we solved that problem by growing our way out of it with things like the GI Bill – that sent ten million returning soldiers to college – giving them the skills to get a good high-paying job. The GI bill also gave home mortgage assistance to soldiers. We need to do the same today.
It started with a bang – it’s ending with a whimper. A report by ThinkProgress shows that the Tea Party is on the outs in America. So far this year – events hosted by the two most popular Tea Party front-groups – “Tea Party Patriots” and the Koch-funded “Americans fro Prosperity” - are down 50% since last year. In 2010 – the nation saw on average 337 Tea Party events across America. So far this year – that number is down to just 166. I, for one, won’t miss them.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, July 25th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.