In this week's On the News Segment: All eyes are on Boehner to see if he has control of his Party, more damage from the massive LIBOR manipulation scandal discovered, Anonymous vows to completely wipe the Westboro Baptist Church off the internet, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. All eyes are on Speaker of the House John Boehner to see if he has control of his Republican Party. Today, Boehner tries to bring his "Plan B" to the floor for a vote – a proposal that will extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans who earn up to a million dollars a year, while allowing the tax cuts for people who take home more than a million a year to expire at the end of the year. Today’s vote is merely political theatre, since the Senate has promised to defeat the legislation. The White House, which has offered to keep the Bush tax cuts in place for Americans earning less than $400,000 a year, has also promised a veto. The hypocrisy here is stunning, as Republicans for four years have argued that it would be disastrous to raise taxes on millionaires – who they call “job creators” – and now Republicans are planning to do just that – raise taxes on the rich. And even millionaire lobbyist Grover Norquist has signed off on the plan, saying it won’t violate his tax pledge. But secretly – Boehner’s plan is a giant tax hike on working Americans – and a tax cut for the super-rich. “Plan B” allows key tax credits for the middle class to expire, which will mean higher tax bills for 20 million American families. At the same time, “Plan B” keeps in place huge tax breaks for the rich by permanently extending the Romney Loophole tax exemption on capital gains, dividends, and estates, which are only paid by the wealthiest Americans. But in the end, even this sweet deal for the oligarchs may not pass the Tea Party-controlled House as Boehner can only afford 24 Republicans defectors for the bill to pass. And, already, at least a dozen Republicans have voiced their opposition to the plan. Keep an eye on this.
Meanwhile, on the other side, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has a problem, too. Since the White House put cuts to Social Security Insurance on the table earlier this week, Pelosi has been trying to whip up support for the plan, despite it being a bitter pill to swallow for most progressives. On Wednesday, Pelosi tried to argue that the “chained CPI,” which changes how Social Security benefits are calculated, will not amount to a cut in the critical insurance program. But House Progressives are unconvinced. In a statement released that same day, 75 Members of the House Progressive Caucus said they cannot support a plan that affects Social Security. The letter reads, “Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) are standing up against a proposal to cut Social Security benefits by changing the way we calculate inflation…Tying Social Security to chained CPI is a benefit cut, and members of the CPC will not vote for a deal that cuts the benefits that millions of Americans rely on.” We need Progressives to hold firm on this, and not agree to any cuts to Social Security, a program that has nothing to do with our national debt and is running a $2.6 trillion surplus. Going off the cliff is a better deal than this one.
In the best of the rest of the news…
We’re learning of more damage from the massive LIBOR manipulation scandal involving the world’s biggest banks. A new report by the Federal Housing Finance Agency discovered that LIBOR rate manipulation cost taxpayer backed mortgage firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, more than $3 billion. It was discovered earlier this year that the world’s largest banks were manipulating a key interest rate that underlies hundreds of billions of dollars of assets around the world, from home mortgages to car loans to credit card rates. The banks discovered they could make huge profits by shifting the LIBOR rate up or down, depending on what they were invested in at the time. But this manipulation could be responsible for hundreds of billions of dollars in losses for both borrowers and creditors. Already, banks like Barclays and UBS have paid billions to settle LIBOR charges. It’s unclear just how much money was stolen by the banks through LIBOR manipulation, but it very well may be the biggest heist in the history of the world – and yet another reason why the banksters are not to be trusted.
No matter what happens with the fiscal cliff, come January 1st, more than a million working people around the nation will see a much-needed pay raise. Workers in several states including, Florida, Ohio, and Colorado will see anywhere between a 10-cent and 35-cent an hour pay raise next year. That may sound modest, but it translates to as much as 500 bucks extra in their pockets at the end of the year. With more money in their pockets, working people will spend more and stimulate the economy. This is what needs to happen on the federal level, where the current $7.25 minimum wage is lower than what it was in the 1960’s when you adjust for inflation. For working Americans to have the same purchasing power they had in the 1960’s, then the federal minimum wage should be at least $10 an hour. We have to stop allowing corporate executives to pay their workers poverty wages, and realize once and for all that the real job creators aren’t sitting the boardrooms – they’re working on the factory floors.
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, December 20, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.