In today's On the News segment: Billionaire admits to Senate subcommittee that middle class, not rich 'job creators,' anchors of the US economy, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. One of our nation's richest men, billionaire Nick Hanauer, just destroyed the GOP's economic talking points. In a testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Hanauer explained why rich people like him are not, in fact, the real job creators. He said, "In the same way that it's a fact that the sun, not earth, is the center of the solar system, it's also a fact that the middle class, not rich business people like me, are the center of America's economy." Hanauer talked about a "virtuous cycle," where middle class consumers have enough money to buy things, which stimulates the economy and creates more jobs. Nick Hanauer was an original investor in Amazon.com, and he founded the company that became Overstock.com. He said that as an investor, he helped start dozens of businesses, but he added, "if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, my businesses would have all failed, and all those jobs would have evaporated." During his testimony, Mr. Hanauer called for higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and said that money should be used to invest in our middle class. He said, "Prosperity is built from the middle out." Nick Hanauer understands that we must invest in our nation to get our economy growing again... hopefully, our lawmakers were listening.
In screwed news... This year is turning out to be a landmark of wealth inequality. During the first three months of 2013, CEOs and banksters raked in record profits, while workers were hit with the largest drop in wages ever. While the U.S. banking industry broke records with profits of over $40 billion dollars, workers saw their wages decline 3.8 percent, despite an increase in worker productivity. That is the largest drop on record, in the 65-year history of that statistic. Thirty-two years of Reaganomics have brought us to this point, where the rich only get richer, and the working-poor work even harder and longer for less. Record profits and bloated CEO pay clearly show that companies can afford better pay for their employees, but greed is getting in the way. Every year, the wealth gap between the top one percent and the everyday worker grows wider. People around our nation are waking up to this disparity, and we're seeing more strikes and actions by low-wage workers. Day by day, more Americans are demanding living wages, and fighting to end this outrageous wealth inequality.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Senator Bernie Sanders wants to make a big investment in our future leaders. The Vermont Senator will soon introduce the Youth Jobs Act, which will provide $3 billion dollars to put young people back to work. Senator Sanders released a statement about the bill, saying "We have got to do everything we can to make sure that young Americans have the jobs they need to pay for a college education, and to move up the economic ladder." Senator Sanders' bill would provide grant money to states in an effort to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for economically disadvantaged young people throughout our nation. His legislation would also provide funding for job training and apprenticeship programs, to provide our youth with the skills they need to be successful throughout their lives. Senator Bernie Sanders knows the importance of our young people, and his legislation could be a great investment in our future leaders.
The Environmental Protection Agency is finally recognizing the true social cost of carbon pollution. The EPA is calling for new legislation, which puts a higher price on pumping carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. In 2009 and 2010, federal agencies got together to calculate the cost of pollution, and by factoring in future property damage, changes to agricultural production, and the risks to human health, they estimated a cost of about $22 per ton of carbon. This year, they updated the assessment models to include rising sea levels and struggling agriculture, and increased the cost to $36 per ton. And, according to Discovery News, some economists say the actual cost is more than ten times that amount. Scientists and economists contend, that by undercharging corporate polluters for the toxins they pump into our atmosphere, we are subsidizing the destruction of our own planet. According to the experts, making big business cover the real cost of carbon pollution not only helps protect our environment, but it will push corporations to finally make the switch to green energy.
Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings says congressional investigators now know politics was not behind the IRS review of Tea Party groups – but, that won't stop Darryl Issa from pressing on with his political witch hunt. This weekend, Representative Cummings released an official transcript of the House Oversight Committee interviews with IRS officials. That transcript shows that an IRS manager – and self-described conservative Republican – told congressional investigators that he and a colleague were responsible for the additional scrutiny of "Tea Party" groups. The manager also stated that he had "no reason to believe that" the White House was involved in any way. Despite the testimony, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said he will continue investigating whether the IRS actions were politically motivated, and said the IRS manager's statement "did not prove anything enlightening." Congressman Cummings said he will release the full transcript, if Representative Issa does not. That transcript may provide even more evidence that the White House was not behind the IRS's scrutiny of "Tea Party" groups, but it's doubful that Darrell Issa will give up his political witch hunt so easily.
And finally... Pot legalization in Washington state has put at least one police dog out of work. The Labrador retriever, Phelan, is now obsolete for police work because he couldn't be retrained to ignore the scent of marijuana. The police department has purchased a new dog, trained to ignore the smell of pot. As more states legalize marijuana, more police dogs could be out of work, but maybe someone will give them a new job – helping forgetful pot smokers relocate their missing stash.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, June 10, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.