In today's On the News Segment: Marriage equality is rapidly gaining support among young Republicans, Europe has reached its highest-ever unemployment, a Republican lawmaker admits voter ID laws are meant to rig the election for Mitt Romney, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is taking a close look at the Chamber of Commerce's political activities. On Tuesday – Schneiderman issued a subpoena to executives with organizations that have funneled millions of dollars into the Chamber of Commerce under the disguise of charitable contributions, to determine whether or not that money was actually used for political purposes – like running ads against Democrats and lobbying Congress. Conservatives like Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers may have been violating the tax code, claiming tax-exempt status, to shield their donors, while they run blatant political advertising. But now, Attorney General Schneiderman is on to them, and his investigation could blow open the doors of these giant pools of dark money – revealing exactly who is behind at least some of the cash flowing into the 2012 election. Republicans had hoped this issue wouldn't be litigated before the election, so as to keep the anonymous money flowing in and assuming that a Romney administration wouldn't prosecute them, but with Attorney General Schneiderman throwing around these subpoenas, we may well soon see some much needed transparency in our politics. Keep an eye on this one.
In screwed news...new Eurozone unemployment numbers are out – revealing that more than 24 million people in the EU are out of work – the highest number ever recorded. And it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to those familiar with the crippling austerity measures sweeping the continent that those nations with the highest rates of unemployment are the ones that swallowed the austerity pill. Of the five nations with the highest unemployment rates – four of them – Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Ireland – were forced by the EU and the IMF to cut government spending and lay off public sector workers in return for bailouts. Those conditions are clearly not working, as those nations continue to sink deeper and deeper into economic ruin. This same dynamic is being played out in the United States – where states that have embraced austerity on average have much worse economies than states that have increased spending since the 2007 financial crisis. This is all yet more evidence that austerity doesn't work – and the only people who claim it does work are Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan who just want to see the economy tank before the November elections.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Republicans are fighting a losing battle when it comes to marriage equality. A new poll by the Washington Post reveals that marriage equality is rapidly gaining support among young Republicans – people between the ages of 18 and 44. That demographic is dead-locked on marriage equality with 46% approving it and 46% disapproving it. But that's a substantial change from 2004 – when 59% of Republicans opposed marriage equality. Currently, Speaker of the House John Boehner is using taxpayer dollars to hire a lawyer to defend DOMA – the Defense of Marriage Act – which defines marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. Increasingly, America agrees that Boehner and today's Republican Party are on the wrong - and bigoted - side of history.
Another day, another whacky state Republican platform. This time, Texas Republicans released their 2012 political platform and it gives the Iowa Republicans, who merely proposed banning pornography, a run for their money. To begin with, Texas Republicans propose eliminating the national income tax – replacing it with a sales tax that hits working Americans a lot harder than the very wealthy. It supports returning to the gold standard, despite most economists arguing that the gold standard would destroy our economy. It calls for corporatizing Social Security by handing it off to Wall Street banksters, which Congressman Paul Ryan is already trying to do in Congress. And Texas Republicans want to ban multicultural teaching in our schools, while bringing back corporal punishment in the classroom. Plus, there are a whole slew of commonplace Republican demands like eliminating the EPA, banning abortion, and the repeal of the Voting Rights Act. In other words, Texas Republicans want to take American back to the 1800's. And don't think for a second that Mitt Romney isn't on board to do the same thing.
Voter ID laws sweeping the nation are aimed at rigging the 2012 election in favor of Mitt Romney. But don't take my word for it – that's what one of the top Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania just admitted. Speaking to the Republican State Committee, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, told his colleagues that the recent Voter ID law passed by Republicans in the state will, "allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania." Several studies, including one by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, have found that Voter ID laws will take the right to vote away from tens of millions of Americans who don't own cars, hitting particularly hard low-income, minority, college student, and elderly voters – people who tend to vote for Democrats. And as one of the most influential Republican strategists of the last thirty years, Paul Weyirch, infamously observed – Republicans chances of winning elections go up, as the voting populace goes down.
A Colorado wildfire jumped a firefighter perimeter line Tuesday night – forcing the evacuation of 32,000 residents and destroying a number of homes. The fire now covers 24-square miles and is even threatening the nearby U.S. Air Force Academy. The Colorado Springs fire chief called it a "firestorm of epic proportions." It's also a firestorm brought to us by climate change. As Derek Arndt, the head of climate monitoring at the National Climatic Data Center, noted – the nation is in the middle of a "super-heated spike on top of a decades-long warming trend." Climate change study after study has warned us about more frequent and more intense wildfires coming, yet Republican lawmakers are ignoring these warnings to keep the big bucks rolling in from the oil and coal barons.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, June 27, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.