In today's On the News segment: Republicans are pushing their latest austerity plan; new poll shows people trust Fox less than ever before; another Republican election-rigging scheme bites the dust; Senator Bernie Sanders is taking on corporate greed; and more.
You need to know this. Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee will have a rare opportunity to question the Obama Administration's authority to bomb American citizens overseas without Congressional oversight, or Judicial Review. The hearing on John Brennan's nomination as CIA Director will be the first time, in over a decade, that an Administration could have to explain their reasoning for denying American citizens their right to due process in George Bush's so-called "war on terror." And, if Senators actually press John Brennan on the issue we could hear this questionable legal reasoning from one of the drone programs leading creators and implementers. They must demand the answers Americans have long-been asking for. Up until now, Congress has shown little interest in tackling the constitutionality of the "targeted killings" of suspected terrorists, and incredibly weak justifications have been accepted. Even after a major speech in 2012, when Brennan himself rationalized the program by saying, "Countries typically don't want foreign soldiers in their cities and towns." Congress did nothing to press for more information. But with NBC News' recent acquisition of a DOJ memo outlining that shaky legal justification, it's unlikely that the American public will allow Congress' willful ignorance to continue. Our Constitution guarantees the right to due process in multiple places, and many Americans are strongly saying that we should never accept the notion that some individuals are not deserving of this right. We can only hope that Senators won't waste this opportunity to get some real answers about the drone program. We're destroying our relationship with the rest of the world in the name of the so-called "War on Terror" - it's about time someone starts explaining why we should allow the program to continue...or bring it to an end.
In screwed news...Republicans are pushing their latest austerity plan. As a so-called alternative to the coming Sequester, members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees presented a new bill Wednesday, which would place the entire burden of spending cuts on the backs of middle-class Americans. In place of the $85 billion in sequestration cuts scheduled this year, Republicans, like Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, are calling for a 10% reduction to the federal workforce. Sen. Jim Inhofe called the bill "a way of doing this [budget cut] without cutting defense, without cutting domestically, and without raising taxes." This is a blatant attempt to both reduce the unionized federal workforce and shelter the defense industry from cuts, because if the Sequester kicks in, the defense budget would be reduced by 25%. So, it's not difficult to speculate why House and Senate Armed Services Committee members – who have been bought-and-paid-for by defense industry contributions – would rather kick so many non-defense people out of a job, rather than deny military defense contractors their enormous profits.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The American people are waking up to the fact that Fox so-called News is neither fair, nor balanced. A Public Policy Polling report released yesterday, indicates that people trust Fox less than ever before. And the reasons are obvious. Although just four years ago, 49% of people said they viewed Fox as a source for accurate news and reporting, the new poll shows that number has dropped to 41%. And, as the Think Progress Blog notes, there are plenty of recent examples of Fox's blatant efforts to mislead their viewers. These include manipulating a graphic to make unemployment appear higher than it actually is, repeating the disproven "live video feed" myth about Benghazi, blaming Obama for non-existent lay-offs, and continuing to deny the realities of Climate Change. Fox recently dumped two of that network's most offensive logic-deniers, Sarah Palin and Dick Morris, so perhaps there's some hope that Rupert Murdock is recognizing the American people don't like being lied to. But let's not expect Fox to join us in the "evidence based" world anytime soon.
Another day, and another Republican election-rigging scheme bites the dust. Virginia Republicans' pushed through a bill to change the state's electoral college while democratic Senator, Henry Marsh, was attending the Presidential inauguration. But William Howell, the Speaker of the Republican House of Delegates, has killed the bill, saying, "I am going to rule that the Senate amendments are not germane and out of order." Meanwhile, in Florida, The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that voters challenging the constitutionality of recent redistricting have uncovered Republican "brainstorming" emails about how to redraw district lines to nakedly benefit their party. All over our nation, outrage from voters is forcing Republicans to cave on their schemes to subvert democracy. There's still four year until the next presidential election, so Americans must keep up the fight for Democracy, take away Republicans' election-rigging ability, and push for a national popular vote. Go to NationalPopularVote.com.
And finally...America's Senator – Senator Bernie Sanders – is taking on corporate greed! Today Senator Sanders is introducing legislation to end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs, and profits, overseas. With effective corporate tax rates – the actual rate that American corporations pay - lower than they've been in 40 years, and an economy that's still struggling to create enough jobs to bring us back from the brink, Senator Sanders' proposal could have a huge impact in our country. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Sanders' bill would raise more than $590 billion in revenue over the next decade – eliminating the need for nearly half the proposed cuts in the looming sequester. Sanders wants to stop rewarding companies that offshore profits and ship our jobs to low-wage nations, and polls show most Americans agree with him. It's time to make corporations pay for their use of our commons, and for the huge profits they're making off hard-working Americans. Call your Senator and tell them to support Senator Sanders' Corporate Tax Fairness Act now!
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, February 7th, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.