In today's On the News segment: While Spain and Greece propose austerity budgets in the face of massive protests and economic desperation, France's socialist government unveiled a new tax package that targets the rich; there's been another mass shooting here in the USA; according to fact-checkers, Michele Bachmann is the biggest liar in Congress; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. There's been another mass shooting here in the USA. A gunman walked into a Minneapolis sign-making business Thursday evening and opened fire – killing the business owner plus three other people, before turning the gun on himself. Four other people were also injured in the shooting. Our nation now averages a horrifying 20 mass shootings like this every single year. And after every single mass shooting, questions are raised about gun regulation and mental health services. Unfortunately, powerful corporate interests like the NRA and the nation's largest gun retailer – Wal Mart – immediately silence the debate and wave around the Second Amendment as a license for unfettered access to guns in America. How many more senseless acts of violence does our nation need to endure before we take the problem of gun violence seriously? The rights of gun owners have trumped the rights of non-gun owners in America – and that must change now.
In screwed news ... student loan debt in America is a big problem. A new Pew Research Center report shows that a record high of one in five Americans households are saddled with student loan debt. That's more than 22 million households – double the number in 1989 – and the most ever recorded. And for the first time ever – student loan debt topped $1 trillion this year. Soaring tuition costs and an anemic job market for young people are fueling the problem. It's clear that our nation needs to make a massive investment to help young people afford college – and then help them find work. Unfortunately – with Republicans focused on austerity and slashing Pell Grant programs and jobs programs – they're condemning young Americans to lost generation.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Republicans who are trying to tank the economy to sabotage President Obama's re-election hopes just got some bad news. The U.S. Department of Labor is out with revised jobs numbers showing that President Obama actually added nearly a half million more jobs as of March 2012 that previously thought. That means that since February 2010 – the economy has added 4.4 million jobs – that's more than the jobs lost in the first year of President Obama's administration when the Bush economy was in complete free fall. In other words, despite the worst economic recession since the Great Depression – and despite continued attempts by Republicans to stop job creation – the President has presided over a net increase in jobs.
Mitt Romney is up to his lies again. During a speech to the American Legion – Romney criticized the President for not doing something about the automatic defense cuts coming down the pike at the end of the year. Romney said such cuts will affect services for our veterans – and called it a "crisis." But that's not even remotely true. The White House has already confirmed that none of the defense cuts will affect any veterans. Not to mention that Romney has endorsed his running mate Paul Ryan's radical budget which does pave the way for a reduction in federal benefits for veterans. The only way Mitt Romney can win the White House is through lying and letting billionaires paper over those lies with billions in political spending. In the coming weeks, we'll see if Romney's plan works.
While Spain and Greece unveil austerity budgets in the face of massive protests and economic desperation – France is taking a new path. Rather than making working people feel the brunt of austerity – France's socialist government unveiled a new tax package that targets the rich. That includes a temporary 75% tax on any income over one million euros – plus new taxes on corporations. The tax increases will bring an extra 30 billion euros in revenue into the government to reduce France's deficit. France is figuring out what the rest of Europe needs to figure out – economies are driven by demand – and not by rich people. The key is keeping money in the pockets of working people to spend it – not giving wealthy people new tax breaks to stash in offshore banks and speculate in the market – which is what caused this whole mess in the first place. Keep an eye on France – it's offering a new way forward amid Europe's economic crisis.
Fox so-called News personality Mike Huckabee is sending a message to Republicans in Congress. In an interview on GOP TV – Huckabee suggested that President Obama should be impeached over his handling of the attack on the Benghazi consulate in Libya. Huckabee said, "Richard Nixon was forced out of office because he lied. And because he covered some stuff up. I will be blunt and tell you this. Nobody died in Watergate. We have people who are dead because of this." With these words – Huckabee is giving Republicans their agenda, should President Obama win a second term – an agenda to weigh down Obama with yet another nonsensical investigation, just like they did in his first term with the phony-balony Fast and Furious fiasco. Unlike President Bush, who was willing to blame any and everything on terrorism to keep Americans afraid – this administration has been more cautious with how it throws that word around – as they should be.
And finally ... Meet Congresswoman Michele Bachmann – apparently the biggest liar in Congress. During a panel discussion at the National Press Club, AP editor Jim Drinkard admitted his organization had to limit its fact-checking of Bachmann because there were just so many lies. Admitting that the sheer volume of Bachmann's lies would have stolen the show during the Republican primary, Drinkard said, "We had to have a self-imposed Michele Bachmann quota in some of those debates." Among Bachmann's lies include: accusations that HPV vaccines can cause mental retardation – that Jimmy Carter was responsible for swine flu – and that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi consumes hundreds of thousands of dollars of booze on her private jet. In Bachmann's defense – one could make the argument that she's not lying – she's just been hypnotized.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, September 28, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.