In today's On the News segment: Report says Romney consulted with tobacco giant Philip Morris on how it could sell more cigarettes; National Rifle Association's super-PAC bought $1.3 million in anti-Obama ads to air in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia; Paul Ryan waltzes into a soup kitchen after hours, without permission, to stage a photo-op washing clean dishes, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. President Obama and Mitt Romney are preparing to square off in their second debate tonight – and the stakes are high. Polls now show a dead heat between the two men – and even swing state polls show a much tighter race. Mitt Romney has already made his debate strategy very clear – which is to lie every chance he gets – and run away from every far right position he's taken over the last year in hopes of painting himself as a moderate. In the first debate – Romney employed the Ronald Reagan strategy of saying whatever he needs to to win, just as long as he says it sincerely. And it worked because President Obama adopted the Jimmy Carter strategy and didn't call out any of Romney's lies. Tonight, with Joe Biden's blistering debate performance still fresh in the minds of progressives – the President must channel his inner fighter and not let Mitt Romney the liar go unchallenged for an hour and a half again. If the President fails, then there's a good chance he could suffer the same fate as Jimmy Carter – a one-term failed President. Not because he actually failed in his first term, but because he let Republicans convince the American people that he did. Stay tuned tonight.
In screwed news...is Mitt Romney responsible for the youth smoking epidemic? The Huffington Post reports that while he was at Bain, Romney was consulting tobacco giant Philip Morris on how the company can sell more cigarettes. It was Bain's idea to drastically slash the price of Marlboros by 40-cents a pack down to $1.80. And that's just what Philip Morris did back in 1993 – and it worked. A lot more cigarettes were sold – especially to young people who could not afford it. According to the Center for Disease Control – smoking among young people increased 20% in the years following the price cut. Between 1993 and 1997 – the nation saw the single-largest growth in youth smoking since 1964. As Matthew Myers – the President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids – said, "Price is the single most important factor in the number of young people who smoke...price increases have been proven to drive down youth tobacco use. And price decreases translate immediately." To Mitt Romney and Bain Capital – getting kids hooked on smoking didn't bother them one bit. As long as profits increased – then it was a job well done.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The National Rifle Association has picked Mitt Romney as their guy. The NRA announced that its SuperPAC has purchased more than $1.3 million in negative attack ads against President Obama that will air in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Virginia. The ads, titled "Defend Freedom, Defeat Obama" accuse the President of "chipping away at our second amendment rights." Of course – despite 20 mass shooting a year – including several high-profile and very deadly shootings just this year – absolutely nothing has been done to restrict guns in America. In fact – President Obama has done just the opposite – expanding gun rights to let Americans bring their firearms onto public parks. On the other hand, Mitt Romney signed a ban on assault weapons when he was Governor of Massachusetts.
When it comes to creating American manufacturing jobs – one political party has a much better track record. According to a new report by the Keystone Research Center – since World War 2 – Democratic presidents have created 7 million manufacturing jobs in the United States – while Republican presidents have presided over the loss of 9 million manufacturing jobs. If Republicans just kept pace with Democrats over the last several decades in manufacturing job creation – then our economy would have double the amount of manufacturing jobs today. Unfortunately, in recent decades – both parties have been hooked on the so-called free trade Kool-Aid that is decimating our manufacturing base – most notably with Bill Clinton signing NAFTA and President Obama negotiating TPP. Still – at least Democrats have proposed cutting off tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas – like Bain Capital. As you might expect Republican in Congress are committed to making sure that bill doesn't pass. I've said it once, and I'll say it again – the first party that makes American manufacturing a top priority by dropping free trade, will see big wins at the polls.
European economies continue to be pushed to the brink by unelected technocrats. While some nations like France and most recently Lithuania have rebelled against austerity and elected Socialist government, others have sunk deeper into spending cuts and economic ruin. Portugal on Monday unveiled a new austerity budget filled with the harshest spending cuts the nation has seen so far. Unemployment in Portugal is 15% - and this new budget will lay off 2% of the nation public sector workforce – and those that aren't laid off will see significant pay cuts. The largest trade union in the nation has called for a general strike on November 14th to protest this latest budget. And the socialist opposition leader called the budget, "a fiscal atomic bomb." By embracing more and more austerity – nations like Greece, Spain, and Portugal have committed themselves to an economic death spiral that will likely end with the entire Eurozone in ruin. But at least the banksters will get paid.
And finally...Paul Ryan tried to prove that Mitt Romney and he really do care about the 47% by showing up to volunteer at a soup kitchen on Monday. But he failed. Ryan showed up after the soup kitchen was already closed. He then put on an apron and pretended to clean dishes for a photo-op – dishes that had already been cleaned. The operator of the soup kitchen blasted the campaign for the impromptu visit – saying it didn't ask for permission. He then said, "The photo-op they did wasn't even accurate...he did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall." I guess the Romney/Ryan campaign believes it can paper over $5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich with a photo-op at soup kitchen.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, October 16th, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.