In today's On the News segment: Taxes in America are at a 30-year low, Georgia is close to executing a mentally disabled inmate, climate-change deniers infiltrate Canada, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Today is Wednesday so...Republicans will try to repeal Obamacare. Despite the law being passed two years ago by both chambers of Congress, signed by the President, and then upheld by the highest court in the land, Republicans will cast their 31st vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and tell more than a hundred million Americans with pre-existing conditions, "tough luck." Or, as former Congressman Alan Grayson put it, "die quickly." Despite - or perhaps because - overwhelming evidence that repeal of the law will kill between 250,000 and 400,000 jobs every year over the next decade, Republicans are hell-bent on casting an overtly political vote today – just as they've done every week they've been in session to embarrass the President and stall our economic recovery. Today's vote has nothing to do with healthcare – and three years of Republican opposition has nothing to do with healthcare either. It has to do with sabotaging the economy and, as Mitch McConnell bragged, making President Obama a one-term president.
In screwed news...America's entrepreneurial class is dying. While small businesses have certainly taken a hit following the Bush Great Recession, the evidence shows that American entrepreneurs have been getting pummeled for more than thirty years. According to a new study released today by the New American Foundation, the number of entrepreneurs per capita has dropped by 53% since 1977. And since 1991, the number of Americans who are self-employed has dropped by more than 20%. In other words, Americans who use to be able to start their own businesses are increasingly being forced to join the ranks of the working poor. That's because our nation has forgotten how to foster an entrepreneurial class over the last thirty years. With massive tax cuts for the wealthy and for transnational corporations – the rich are getting richer and the big corporations are getting bigger. It doesn't help that we no longer enforce the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and have jumped head-first into so-called Free Trade either, which has given way to giant transnational corporations that small business upstarts simply can't compete with. Not only that, we've destroyed the social safety net in the country, which used to give Americans a chance to take risks and try new jobs because they had a net of security to fall in if they failed. Today if they fail, they're condemned to indefinite poverty – so no one can afford to take risks to start small businesses. This is the consequence of thirty years of Reaganomics – and it's what Republicans today are doubling-down on.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Don't tell the Tea Party, but taxes in America are at a 30-year low thanks to President Obama. Looking at the latest numbers from the Congressional Budget Office – which are from 2009 – the average federal tax rate for all household in the nation is just 17.4%. It should be noted that quarter-billionaire Mitt Romney pays less than that average. Still – the 17.4% rate is well below the 30-year average of 21% - and well-below what was paid under George W. Bush in 2003, which was 19.4%. Over the next four months until the election, Republicans will lie and say the President has raised taxes. That's clearly not true. But these numbers do prove that with taxes at a 30-year low, then the very wealthy among us can afford to pay their fair share again.
Georgia is close to executing a mentally disabled inmate. Lawyers for Warren Lee Hill are exercising one last-ditch appeal before their client is slated to die by lethal injection next week. Hill was sentenced to life in prison after shooting and killing his girlfriend in 1986, and then sentenced to death after killing his cell mate in 1990. But tests show that Hill has an IQ of just 70 – putting him at the same mental capacity as a 6th grader – and well-within the mental retardation range. According to a Supreme Court ruling in 2002, it's inhumane punishment to execute "mentally retarded" individuals. But Georgia law has the heaviest burden of any state to prove mental retardation. If Hill's appeal fails, then for the second time in a year – Georgia will be at the center of an execution controversy – just as they were when Troy Davis was executed in September of last year – a man who many thought was innocent.
The climate-change deniers haven't just taken over the United States, they're in charge in Canada as well. On Tuesday, a funeral procession of scientists took to the streets of Ottawa to raise attention to what they're calling the "the death of Evidence" – namely the attack on climate-change research and facts by the Conservative Harper government. The scientists point to a series of recent cuts in energy research programs and the government's decision to mine tar sands in Alberta as evidence of an attack on the environment. As one professor with the University of Ottawa said, "There is a systematic campaign to reduce the flow of scientific evidence to Canadians. As a result, the public hears and sees only information that supports federal government policy or ideology. That's not evidence, that's propaganda." Remember, this is the same country that Republicans want to let build a pipeline across America to transport highly-toxic tar sands that leading environmentalists in the U.S. have described as a "ticking time bomb" for the environment.
And finally – we no longer have a well-informed electorate – and that electorate knows it. According to a new Gallup released on Tuesday, Americans' confidence in TV news now stands at an all-time low. Only 21% of Americans have at least "a lot" of confidence in television news – down significantly from 1993 – before the age of cable news – when 46% of Americans had confidence in television news. Among liberals the numbers are even lower – with only 19% of left-leaning voters confidant in TV news. Of course, one way to get those numbers back up is to force Fox so-called News to drop the word "news" from their title.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, July 11, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.