In today's On the News segment: Yesterday, the Senate finally reauthorized protections for victims of domestic abuse in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); the Republican response to the State of the Union made it clear that the GOP's only policy proposal is austerity; a new poll appears to indicate that more Republicans oppose an idea if they know that the President supports it; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Last night, President Obama laid out his agenda for his second term. The State of the Union speech set some ambitious goals to get our nation back on a progressive course. The list included executive action on climate change, a "Fix-it-First" program to invest in infrastructure and job creation, and a legal pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals living in the United States. The President also called for making high-quality early education available to all children, called on Congress to bring gun legislation to a vote, and announced we're finally getting our troops our of a seemingly endless war. But, perhaps the biggest news of the evening was Obama's call for an increase in the federal minimum wage. He surprised everyone during the speech by saying, "Tonight, lets declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour." However, despite Obama's calls to get our nation back on track, the Republicans were apparently not impressed with the speech. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell said, "I think what most Americans wanted to hear tonight was the President's plan to get government spending under control, rein in the debt, and put the private economy back on a path to real growth and serious job creation." It's not surprising that Republicans also refused to stand and show support for equal pay for women, protecting our democratic process, or streamlining the legal immigration system. In 2012, Americans spoke loudly and clearly about what vision they want for our country. Perhaps it'll take a few more elections for the Republicans to finally hear the nation's calls for progress.
In screwed news ... The Republican response to the State of the Union made it clear that the GOP's only policy proposal is austerity. Florida Senator Marco Rubio called for imposing more spending cuts, saying, "The real cause of our debt is that our government has been spending 1 trillion dollars more than it takes in every year. That's why we need a balanced budget amendment." However, the growth of government spending is at it's lowest rate since Dwight Eisenhower. The federal budget deficit is down as a percentage of GDP. And non-defense government spending is lower than it's been in a half-century. Now it's time to stop the Republican austerity measures from killing jobs, and reversing economic growth. We shouldn't even be focusing on deficits at a time when our economy is struggling. Obama said it himself last night, "Deficit reduction alone is not an economic policy." Now it's time to reinvest in our nation, rebuild our infrastructure, and strengthen our middle-class. We know that the Republicans won't stand with the President on these issues, so it's up to us to support him, and get this country back on a course to progress.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Yesterday, the Senate finally reauthorized protections for victims of domestic abuse. Originally passed in 1994, The Violence Against Women Act was not reauthorized by Congress back in 2012. The bill finally cleared the Senate yesterday, with a vote of 78 to 22. All 22 Senators who opposed the vote were Republican men. Among them were Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Marco Rubio. The legislation was delayed in the Senate because of Republican opposition to protections for Native Americans, undocumented immigrants, and LGBT victims of domestic violence. After finally passing yesterday, the bill's co-sponsor, democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said, "A victim is a victim is a victim, and violence is violence is violence." Well said Senator. This is another victory against the Republican war on women, but with the on-going attack on reproductive rights, it looks like we have a long fight ahead.
Perhaps the best way for Obama to get Republicans to support an issue, is for him to oppose it. That's what a new poll from the Washington Post seems to indicate. On issues like immigration and climate change, it appears that more Republicans oppose an idea if they know that the President supports it. According to the poll, 60% of Republicans support a pathway to citizenship if Obama's name is not included in the question. When the same issue is presented with Obama's name in the proposed law, the number drops to 39%. That's a 21% drop in support, on the exact same issue, simply because Obama is associated with it. This study may explain why a previous Reuters' poll showed that many Republicans support key provisions in the Affordable Care Act, yet claim to hate Obamacare as a whole. As the Think Progress Blog reminds us, a pathway to citizenship was not simply Obama's idea. Neither was instituting a healthcare mandate, closing tax loopholes, or increasing gun regulations. All of these ideas were supported, or even introduced, by Republicans. So, if Obama really wants to get some work done this term, maybe he should just oppose himself – perhaps then Republicans would suddenly become Obama supporters.
And finally... Does Sarah Palin have a new gig? Well, that depends on who you ask. Today, the Washington Post is "refutiating" its own report, that the former vice-presidential candidate and Fox News contributor signed on with Al Jazeera America. The paper fell hook-line-and-sinker for a fake "interview" posted by The Daily Currant – an outlet that describes itself as "the global satirical newspaper of record." The Post's Suzi Parker cited the story, saying, "Fox News and their once-upon-a-time darling Palin recently parted ways after three years. But it appears that Palin is still trying to find ways to stay relevant, while her 15 minutes fades into the political history books." It looks like The Washington Post now needs to issue another correction... for falsely implying Sarah Palin was ever actually relevant in the first place.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, February 13, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.