In today's On the News segment: The nation's largest nurses' union - National Nurses United - has joined the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline; the Progressive Caucus announced it will introduce legislation known at the "Balancing Act" to reduce the deficit and stimulate the economy; Republicans are promising to block the next nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB); and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. On Tuesday, President Obama urged Congress to put off the looming sequester of nearly a trillion dollars in spending cuts. But if he wants to find a suitable replacement to reduce the deficit and stimulate the economy – he should look to the left-wing of his own party: the Congressional Progressive Caucus. On Tuesday, the Progressive Caucus announced it will introduce legislation known at the "Balancing Act", that will scrap the sequester – raise new revenue from the rich who aren't paying their fair share – and make critical investments in our economy and infrastructure. To begin with, the Progressive Caucus' proposal will raise $960 billion in revenue to replace the sequester, by closing tax loopholes for the billionaire hedge fund managers, closing loopholes for corporations that ship American jobs overseas, and by cutting off billions in taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil. The plan also cuts our war budget by $300 billion. With the extra revenue, the Caucus proposes new investments in education, in infrastructure, and in the middle class, with new tax cuts that actually help working people. Altogether – the proposal will slash the deficit by $3.3 trillion – and at the same time create more than a million jobs. Voters spoke loud and clear last November, when they re-elected President Obama, and elected a more progressive Congress. Now it's time to give the American people what they want: policies that revive the middle class, and make the rich and corporate American pay their fair share in taxes again. Call your Member of Congress and tell them to support the Congressional Progressive Caucus' Balancing Act.
In screwed news... An institution as old as America itself is in its death throes. Today – the United States Postal Service announced that it's cutting back its delivery of mail on Saturdays – and will instead go to a five-day-delivery schedule of mail. This change is set to go into effect in August – and will reportedly save the post office $2 billion a year. This could be the first of a long series of cutbacks for the Oost Office, which is hemorrhaging billions of dollars every year, as a result of poison pill legislation passed by Republicans in Congress, and signed by President Bush in 2006. That law required the Post Office to pre-fund its retiree health benefits 75 years out into the future – for workers who aren't even born yet. This requirement sucks five billion dollars of revenue out of the Post Office every year – and is a burden that no other business or government agency has ever had to bear. Without this requirement, the Post Office would be running surpluses. But Republicans knew exactly what they were doing when they passed the law – they were killing the Post Office and its half-million unionized workers. And today – with the announcement that the Post Office is cutting Saturday mail delivery, Republicans are patting themselves on the back, because everything is going according to plan. Ben Franklin himself started the Post Office – and it's one of America's most successful traditions. It's in the Constitution! Unfortunately – unless we pressure our lawmakers to take bold steps to save the Post Office, it will just be the latest casualty in the Republicans war on unions.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Why are Republicans promising to block the next nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which gives working people numerous protections from bankster fraud? Well, because banksters are paying them to do it! Last week, 43 Republican Senators signed a letter to the President, saying they would block any new nominee to the CFPB, unless the agency is weakened so it has less oversight of Wall Street. Turns out, those 43 Senators have received over $143 million from the financial industry. The six Republican Senators, who were elected in 2012, received more than $7 million from Wall Street just in the last election cycle. Those weren't contributions – those were investments – and now Wall Street wants their return on their investments, by having their Republicans kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Those battling the Keystone XL pipeline just received some much-needed reinforcements. The nation's largest nurses union – National Nurses United – has joined the fight against that toxic pipeline. As people who understand first-hand the health effects of a hotter, more polluted planet, National Nurses United is in a unique position to highlight health concerns related to the pipeline. National Nurses United Co-President Deborah Burger said, "Nurses care for patients every day who struggle with health crises aggravated by environmental pollution in its many forms... As a society, we need to reduce the effects of environmental factors, including climate change, that are making people sick, and endangering the future for our children. That's why we oppose the Keystone XL pipeline." As with any fight against entrenched, well-funded special interests like Big Oil – organized people need as much help as they can get to take on organized money. Kudos to National Nurses United for getting involved in the fight to save the planet.
And finally...if you're a Member of Congress – you might want to think twice about vying for that "prized" NRA endorsement. A new Public Policy Polling survey found that an NRA endorsement will actually hurt most political candidates. The poll surveyed voters around the nation – asking them if an NRA endorsement would make them more or less likely to support a particular candidate. According to the results, 26% of voters said the NRA's endorsement makes them more likely to support a candidate. BUT, a much higher 39% said it would make them less likely to support a candidate. Among independents, 41% said an NRA endorsement will diminish their support for a candidate. Remember, this is the same organization that spent millions in 2012, to elect pro-gun lawmakers – yet fewer than 1% of its contributions went to winning candidates. This is not an organization to be feared. If anything, it should be put in a museum.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, February 6th, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.