In today's On the News segment: Obama pardons 17 common criminals but White House won't comment on why he won't pardon a political prisoner, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. President Obama is negotiating with economic terrorists. Reuters' reports that Obama may give in to GOP budget demands by offering cuts to our social safety net. In calls with lawmakers over the weekend, Obama said he will cut programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in exchange for a so-called compromise to replace the sequester, as long as Republicans agree to more tax increases. This is not a compromise. The Republicans have held our economy hostage, and pushed their austerity measures, so they could force Obama's hand in the budget debate. Because of the GOP's economic terrorism, and refusal to end tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, our nation will face cuts to programs many of us depend on. A new report from Alternet outlines several of the most devastating cuts we now face, like a $199 million cut to public housing, a $633 million cut from Special Education programs, and nearly a $1 billion cut to FEMA disaster relief. And now the President is offering more cuts in hopes that Republicans will negotiate? This is insane. We shouldn't have allowed any cuts in the first place. No nation, in the history of the world, has ever cut it's way to prosperity, but for some unknown reason Congress and the President think austerity will succeed this time. We need to band together and fight back against these Republican austerity measures, and against the Administration's purposed cuts to our vital social safety net. Let's remind them they work for us. Call Congress and the White House and tell them to stop this economic terrorism now.
In screwed news... If you take a look at the Stock Market, you'd think we have a strong economic recovery in our country. But as it turns out, it's only been good for corporations and the super wealthy. The rest of us continue to struggle, while greedy corporations soak up huge economic gains. According to the New York Times, the Stock Market is approaching a record high, but the wealth gap between workers and their employers has continued to widened during the recovery, and could get even worse as Republican austerity measures kick in. Just since 2008, corporate profits have risen nearly 20% per year, while workers saw yearly disposable income gains of just 1.4%. According to Dean Maki, chief U.S. Economist at Barclays, "There hasn't been a period in the last 50 years where these trends have been so pronounced." With profits like these, it's hard to understand how Republicans can justify keeping corporate tax rates at historic lows. It's time to make corporations pay for the use of our commons, and for the huge sums of cash they've made off hard-working Americans. It's a privilege to do business in our nation, and it's about time we demand corporations pay for the right to operate here.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The Swiss have said "No" to corporate fat-cat greed. Voters in that nation recently approved a measure which gives shareholders veto power over executive salaries, compensation packages, and huge bonuses. The so-called "fat cat initiative" will be written into the Swiss constitution, and all companies listed on the Swiss stock exchange will be required to comply. BBC News reports that 68% of voters supported the plan, which accounts for 1.6 million votes, and it was supported in all 26 Swiss cantons. One of the referendum's organizers, Brigitte Moser Harder, said the plan got broad support because of the growing income gap in that nation. She said, "It's also a social problem because the high wages got higher, and the small ones sometimes just got lower." A similar measure was recently approved in the European Union, which will cap bankster's bonuses throughout the EU. We should take a cue from Switzerland and the E.U., and take on the billionaires in our country as well. We can start by making it illegal to hoard huge sums of cash. Let's outlaw billionaires. Join the movement at NoBillionaires.com.
Last Friday, President Obama issued 17 pardons for people convicted of various crimes, that ranged from altering a money order to possession of an illegal firearm. Before the list was announced, the President had only pardoned 22 other people, and had denied over 1,000 requests from others. Compared to President George W. Bush, who pardoned 189 people during his two terms in office, President Obama has made little use of his clemency powers. According to the Associated Press, the White House hasn't offered any explanation about the reason these particular people were selected by the President, or supplied any details as to why other pardon requests were denied. And there's one request that the Progressive community is especially curious about – the still-unanswered request to pardon former Alabama Governor Don Siegleman. If the President is willing to release drug dealers, counterfeiters, and gun-toters, why won't he pardon a United States political prisoner? It's time to free Don Siegleman. Sign the petition and spread the word... go to Free-Don.org.
And finally... Holy Smokes Batman, a caped crusader is solving crimes in Britain. Reuters reports that closed-circuit television shows a man, in a full Batman costume – gloves, mask, cape, and all – brought in a 27 year old man for handling stolen goods and committing other fraud-related offenses. But Batman didn't stick around to receive any praise from the Police. A spokeswoman for the West Workshire Police said, "The person who brought the wanted man into the station was dressed in a full Batman outfit. His identity, however, remains unknown." There's no report of how Batman managed to capture the criminal, but his crime-fighting skills did lead to the arrest. Perhaps the superhero rushed out to avoid being identified, or maybe the batmobile was double-parked.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, March 4, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.