In today's On the News segment: Commonwealth court judge Robert Simpson will hear arguments on Pennsylvania's controversial Voter Suppression ID law, the mask is slipping off the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Julian Assange addressed the UN on Wednesday via a satellite uplink from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Sheldon Adelson is spending more money this election than any American in history to help Mitt Romney win because he's trying to derail an investigation, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Today could be a big day for voters in Pennsylvania. Commonwealth court judge Robert Simpson will hear arguments on the state's controversial Voter Suppression ID law – and there's a solid chance he could issue an injunction and prevent the law from taking effect before November's election. On Tuesday – Judge Simpson suggested that he will likely put the law on hold since state officials have not yet proven that the law won't harm eligible voters. Roughly half of the city of Philadelphia stands to be kicked off the voting rolls come November because they're committing the crime of voting while poor and black. Pennsylvania is a battleground state – and earlier this year – Republican State House leader – Mike Turzai – bragged that his Voter Suppression ID Law would "allow Governor Romney to win the state." But it looks like the courts may throw a wrench in Turzai's plans. But make no mistake about it – Republicans will continue to kick as many Democratic voters off the rolls as they can before November. In fact, Florida Governor Rick Scott has restarted his illegal voter purge – targeting those who don't have white Anglo-Saxon names. All of this should wake us up to the fact that all Americans of all races - including elderly and college-student age whites - need a federal right to vote.
Small businesses are getting screwed by their main lobbying organization. The mask is slipping off the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The organization, which claims to be an interest group on behalf of small businesses, was called out by the Center for Media and Democracy on a new website called NFIBexposed.org. The website alleges that instead of representing small business, the NFIB is actually doing the bidding of large transnational corporations against the best interests of small, independent businesses. One glaring example is the NFIB lobbying against Obamacare – which gives generous incentives to small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees. The NFIB also lobbies against proposed tax increases on the wealthy, despite the fact that such increases only affect 3% of small businesses. Not only that – the NFIB is radically partisan, while most small businesses are not. So far this election cycle, 98% of the NFIB's political donations have gone to Republicans. Clearly the NFIB isn't around to help small businesses – it's another shill organization to help giant corporations eat up small businesses on Main Streets all across America. Spread the word.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Julian Assange addressed the UN on Wednesday via a satellite uplink from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he's been holed up since June. Assange devoted his speech to Bradley Manning and the ongoing persecution in the United States of Wikileaks. Assange noted that Manning – the soldier accused of turning over U.S. diplomatic cables to Wikileaks to expose war crimes – has now been locked up for 856 days – far more than the legal maximum in the U.S. military, which is 120 days. Assange also slammed President Obama for taking credit for the Arab Spring – arguing that the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire triggering the first uprising in the Arab Spring did not do so to help Barack Obama get re-elected. Assange ended his speech by saying, "It is time for President Obama do the right thing, and join the forces of change, not in fine words but in fine deeds."
Mitt Romney is on the campaign trail promising to create 12 million jobs. But a new report by the Economic Policy Institute finds that Romney may have gotten his words mixed up – and he actually plans to kill 12 million jobs. According to the EPI – Romney's mix of tax cuts and spending cuts will actually kill a half-million jobs over the next two years if he's elected. As EPI warns, "Government spending cuts of this magnitude would constitute an economic shock even larger than the one inflicted by the bursting of the housing bubble." In other words – Romney's plan will crash the economy.
We now have an idea exactly why Chinese casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is spending more money this election than any American in history to help Mitt Romney win. It's because he's trying to derail an investigation that could cost him his fortune. In an interview with Politico, a very candid Adelson suggested to reporter Mike Allen that a Mitt Romney win would put an end to investigations into his offshore Chinese casinos by the Obama Justice Department. Adelson's business is under investigation for money laundering and bribing foreign officials. As Ryan Grim at Huffington Post suggests, "Adelson is spending millions of dollars to curry political favor in the United States, hoping to fend off charges that he spent millions of dollars to curry political favor in Asia." Oh, and Adelson does stand to gain a $2 billion tax cut if Romney wins as well. This is what our politics have devolved into, thanks to Citizens United – a venue where the rich can get richer and shield themselves from criminal investigations. Go to MoveToAmend.org to put an end to these billionaire shenanigans.
And finally...the scabs are gone and the real refs are coming back. After a week of debacle in the NFL – a deal was struck on Wednesday between the NFL and the NFL Referees union to end the lockout – meaning unionized refs will be back on the field starting tonight. The referees secured important concessions from the NFL including an 8-year deal, the longest in history – plus refs are able to keep their pensions through 2016 and were able to fight off the proposed pension freeze being pushed by the NFL. This lockout has triggered union support from across the political spectrum – including from notorious anti-union Governors like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, who begged for a deal to be reached to bring back the unionized refs. Let's hope this serves as a lesson that unions do better work and should be protected.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, September 27, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.