In today's On the News segment: An analysis by Bloomberg News shows that corporate profits have grown a whopping 171 percent under Obama; as much as 16.6 million more metric tons of carbon dioxide will be pumped into the atmosphere if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved in March; millions of Americans are at risk of having their homes flooded as a result of our deteriorating infrastructure; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Ten Governors around the nation, along with the premier of Saskatchewan, are urging President Obama to approve construction of the rest of the Keystone XL pipeline. The administration is expected to make a decision by the end of March, and for the sake of the planet, let's hope the President says, "no way!" A new study by Oil Change International looked at the potential environmental impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline – and discovered they were worse than previously thought. As much as 16.6 million more metric tons of carbon dioxide will be pumped into the atmosphere, as a result of the Keystone XL pipeline – and new estimates show that annual carbon emission will be 13% higher than previously estimates. While Big Oil and foreign transnational corporations urge the President to approve this environmental time bomb, more rational scientists are pleading for the President to reject it. On Tuesday, 18 of the nation's top climate scientists wrote a letter to President Obama, urging him to scrap the pipeline. In order to tip the scales away from Big Oil, "we the people" need to get active and fight for the planet – because with projections showing a 5-degree increase in temperatures by the end of the century, if we sit around and do nothing – the consequences could be catastrophic.
In screwed news...Millions of Americans are at risk of having their homes flooded, as a result of our deteriorating infrastructure. According to an investigation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, more than 300 levees covering more than 2,000 miles around the country are in need of "urgent repair", and risk failing. And this problem could be much worse, as only 40% of the nearly 2,500 structures, which protect 10 million people from floods, have been reviewed so far. In New Orleans in 2005, we saw the horrific consequences of what happens when levees fail. And these deteriorating levees are part of a bigger problem – a deteriorating infrastructure. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers – our infrastructure requires $1.6 trillion in repairs – and if nothing is done by the end of the decade, that number will grow to nearly $3 trillion. Decaying infrastructure is estimated to cost our economy 3.5 million jobs over the next decade. Of course, there's a simple solution to all of this: Invest government money into rebuilding and modernizing our nation's infrastructure. Unfortunately, since such a thing will put tens of millions of Americans back to work, improve our economy, and prove that the government can indeed be a force for economic good – Republicans in Congress are blocking this much needed infrastructure stimulus. So, you know who to call next time the levees break – John Boehner and Eric Cantor.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Corporate America is doing very, very well under President Obama. Despite accusations that the President is anti-business or even a socialist, an analysis by Bloomberg News shows that corporate profits have grown a whopping 171% under President Obama. That's the biggest gain under any president ever in the post-war era. To put it in perspective – as Bloomberg points out, "Profits are more than twice as high as their peak during President Ronald Reagan's administration, and more than 50 percent greater than during the late-1990s Internet boom, measured by the size of the economy." At the same time, workers' wages as a percent of GDP are lower than they've ever been. Despite what you hear on Fox so-called News, and the Conservative misinformation complex – big business is doing very well under President Obama. It's the workers who aren't. So if the President really is a socialist, then he's not doing a very good job.
Mired in the worst flu season in decades, Americans are demanding business owners give their workers paid sick days. According to a new survey by the consumer organization, ORC International, 57% of Americans say it is "very important or important" that restaurants provide their workers with paid sick days. This is common sense, after all, who wants sick people handling their food? Unfortunately, the United States of America is the only developed nation in the world that doesn't guarantee paid sick leave, holiday pay or paid vacation days. As a result, 90% of restaurant workers don't get paid sick time. The same is true of 79% of ALL food industry workers. According to a 2009 study by the CDC – as many as 5 million more Americans get the flu every year, because restaurants don't offer paid sick days to their workers. This is insanity. Enough with putting corporate profits ahead of the health of entire communities. Give workers what they've earned – a paid day off when they have the flu. With corporate profits as percentage of GDP higher than they've ever been before, Corporate America can easily afford it.
And finally...Republicans are now admitting that the only reason they still control the House of Representatives is because they rigged the election. In a new report by the Republican State Leadership Council, the Party brags about how it spent $30 million in 2010 to put Republicans majorities in state legislatures in blue states, like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Those majorities went on to carve up Congressional districts in a way that benefits Republicans – by carving up very safe red districts –and hurts Democrats by splitting up Democratic strongholds. So by the time the 2012 elections came along – Republican House seats were already very well-protected. As the report notes, "2012 could have been a repeat of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Democrats...Instead, Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House...having endured Democratic successes atop the ticket and over one million more votes cast for Democratic House candidates than Republicans." Yes, Republicans just admitted that voters wanted Democrats to control the House – but Republican gerrymandering prevented that from happening. Clearly the Republican Party has adopted one simple strategy: If you can't win elections fair and square – then steal them.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, January 18, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.