In today's On the News segment: The Justice Department is again zeroing in on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's illegal purge of Democratic voters; Congress went on recess this week, leaving the United States Postal Service, which is facing a financial crisis, hanging; the Republican Party just became the party of tax-raisers; and more.
Karl Frisch here in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. Congress went on recess this week leaving the United States Postal Service, which is facing a financial crisis, hanging. At midnight tonight, the Postal Service will default on a $5.5 billion payment it owes to the Treasury Department. This default will not have any immediate effects on day-to-day operations at the Postal Service, but it highlights the financial troubles that the institution, which was created more than 200 years ago by Ben franklin, is facing today. And those problems are almost entirely thanks to Republicans. In 2006 – Republicans in Congress passed a poison pill piece of legislation forcing the Post Office to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years out into the future – basically funding benefits for future employees who aren't even boring yet. The Postal Service has to do this by giving the Treasury $5.5 billion every single year. That's a requirement that no business, or any government agency has ever had to comply with. And it's the reason why the Post Office is going bankrupt today and looking into closing down post offices, laying off workers, and cutting down delivery service. So why is all this happening? Because the Postal Service employs hundreds of thousands of unionized workers – where as private mail carriers like UPS and Fed Ex don't. So Republicans – in their non-stop war on unions – realized that if they could bankrupt the Postal Service, then could they hurt unions. That's what they did in 2006, and their plan is working today. Don't buy into the scam that the Postal Service is going broke because of the internet and the rise of e-mail. It's going broke because it's the latest casualty in the Right's war on organized labor.
In screwed news...Texas is poised to send one of the most radical politicians in the nation to the United States Senate. Last night, Texas Republicans voted for Tea Party-backed candidate Ted Cruz to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate – and it's a virtual guarantee he'll win the general election in November. So who is Ted Cruz? Well, as ThinkProgress reports – he believes that George Soros is leading a United Nation conspiracy to outlaw golf courses. He also – like the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry – believes that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. He believes that states should be able to overturn federal law – an idea that basically ignited the Civil War. He's also a ranting Islamophobe. And he'll soon be the next United States Senator from Texas. Well done, Lone Star State!
In the best of the rest of the news...
The Republican Party just became the party of tax raisers. As a report by the Center for American Progress uncovered – the current tax reform bill being pushed by Republicans would raise taxes on 24 million working and middle class Americans – that includes 9.2 million single parents. Meanwhile, it protects the Bush tax cuts for the top 2%. A recent report by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities found that the average millionaire received one million in tax cuts over the last decade thanks to the Bush tax cuts. The Democrats' tax proposal – which raises taxes on the top 2% back to Clinton-era levels – would only hit 2 million people with a tax – the 2 million wealthiest Americans, that is. So, the Republican proposal raises taxes on 12-times more Americans than the Democratic proposal. Shouldn't Grover Norquist be freaking out? Or does he only care when rich people are hit with tax hikes?
The Justice Department is again zeroing in on Florida Governor Rick Scott's illegal purge of Democratic voters. On Friday, the Justice Department filed court paper claiming the state is in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This is the latest move by the DOJ since it sent a formal letter to Governor Scott back in June demanding that he cease his voter purge efforts. The vast majority of those targeted to be kicked off the rolls thus far in Florida are minorities who actually are legal citizens. As former Republican Party Chairman in Florida, Jim Greer, revealed in a lawsuit against his Party – Republicans in the Sunshine State openly discussed ways to prevent blacks from voting. That's what's going on today in Florida.
Another victory for advocates of marriage equality. On Tuesday, a Second Circuit court judge ruled that the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection clause in the Constitution, and thus should be overturned. As Judge Vanessa Bryant – who is a Bush appointee – argued that "no conceivable rational basis exists for the provision." Judge Bryant's ruling is just the latest in a string of recent court rulings overturning DOMA. Yet Republicans continue to cling to discrimination. Speaker of the House John Boehner is still using taxpayer dollars to defend DOMA in courts. Time for the dinosaurs in the Republican Party to evolve and embrace marriage equality in the 21st century.
And finally...Republican Congressman Steve King might be losing it. He defended dog-fighting earlier this week, and now video has surfaced of King holding a townhall meeting last week in which he fully embraces birtherism. When asked about his views on where President Obama was born, King outrageously suggested that the birth announcements found in Hawaii newspapers may have actually been telegraphed from Kenya by President Obama's parents. As in, he's suggesting the President was born in Kenya. King also noted his staff has investigated this issue – meaning taxpayer dollars were wasted on King's birther crusade. Luckily – we here at the Thom Hartmann Program are about to launch our own investigation to figure out what exactly Congressman Steve King is smoking?
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, August 01, 2012. I'm Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.