Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to make banking boring again. Yesterday, the freshman senator introduced the 21st Century Glass Steagall Act, which would break up the big banks, and rebuild the wall between traditional banking and Wall Street gambling. In a statement, Senator Warren said, "Despite the progress we've made since 2008, the biggest banks continue to threaten the economy." Senators John McCain and Maria Cantwell, the pair who attempted a similar bill back in 2009, joined Senator Warren as she introduced her new legislation. Of course, taking on the "too-big-to-fail" banks won't be an easy challenge. Previous attempts to reign in bank size and power were met with huge resistance from the banksters, who railed against proposals to break up the banks. Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, said the so-called "universal banking system" is the "most important" model there is. He argued that banks "can't be competitive if [they] can't provide all those services to [their] customers." And, JPMorgan's CEO Jamie Dimon has even tried to make the case that "too-big-to-fail" banks are a good thing. Last year, he told the New Yorker magazine, "There are huge benefits to size" and "that's what capitalism is." But, Senator Elizabeth Warren isn't buying any of their talking points. Since the day she was elected, Senator Warren has worked hard to hold banksters accountable for wrecking our economy, and proposed rules to prevent it from happening again. When she introduced the 21st Century Glass Steagall Act yesterday, she said, "The four biggest banks are now 30% larger than they were just five years ago, and they have continued to engage in dangerous, high-risk practices that could once again put our economy at risk." We know the banksters won't give up their power easily, but Senator Elizabeth Warren isn't backing down without a fight.
In screwed news... On Thursday, Republicans in the House of Representatives put huge corporate farms ahead of hungry Americans. Breaking 30 years of legislative tradition, GOP lawmakers stripped the food stamp program out of the farm bill, and voted on the remainder of the legislation. The debate on the House floor became intense, as Democrats delayed the vote for hours and called Republicans callous and cruel. Representative Rosa DeLauro said, "A vote for this bill is a vote to end nutrition in America." Congressman Steny Hoyer said Republicans, "cannot help themselves from turning nonpartisan, bipartisan legislation into 'my way or the highway'." Despite the harsh words from Democrats, Republicans chalked it up as a win. GOP Congressman Marlin Stutzman said, "We wanted separation, and we got it. You've got to take these wins when you can get them." The House will supposedly consider food stamp legislation in a separate vote, but it faces the same Tea Party Republicans that called for huge cuts to the program to begin with. Millions of Americans are watching closely, and hoping that House Republicans won't cut off the food assistance they rely on.
In the best of the rest of the news...
More than 100 economists have signed on to a petition calling on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. Only days ago, the Chicago Fed estimated that raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour would boost our economy by nearly $50 billion dollars in one year. But, these 100 economists say that that raise isn't enough. They all support Congressman Alan Grayson's plan, the "Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2013," which proposes raising the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour. Representative Grayson introduced the bill this week, and issued a statement saying, "Right now, hardworking Americans are barely able to keep roofs over their heads and provide food for their children. No person working forty hours a week should be living below the poverty line." In addition to helping low-income families, increasing wages for those who make the least in our nation would help stimulate our economy, because low-income people would have more money to spend. Congressman Grayson – and more than 100 economists – explain, raising the federal minimum wage makes economic sense.
It looks like Republicans may have finally pushed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid too far. Yesterday, Senator Reid gave a scathing speech on the Senate floor, blasting Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for continued Republican obstruction. Senator Reid said, "The Republican leader has failed to live up to his commitments. He's failed to do what he said he would do – move nominations by regular order except in extraordinary circumstances. I refuse to unilaterally surrender my right to respond to this breach of faith." The Democratic leader set up test votes for a series of President Obama's nominees, and now promises to change the filibuster procedure if Republicans refuse to cooperate. Senator McConnell responded by calling Harry Reid's accusation an "absolutely phony, manufactured crisis", and said Democrats will "live to regret it" if they change Senate rules. This is shaping up to be one heck of a fight. Stay tuned.
And finally... After Republicans in North Carolina deviously attempted to attach abortion legislation to a motorcycle safety bill, women in that state got just as creative with their response. On Thursday, pro-choice protesters gathered in the State House wearing motorcycle helmets, to mock GOP lawmakers for the deceptive tactics. Even that state's Republican Governor, Pat McCrory, has criticized the sneaky way the anti-abortion legislation was brought forward, however it's not entirely clear whether he will block the measure from becoming law. While the attack on women's rights in North Carolina is certainly no laughing matter, many people shared a few chuckles over the activists' efforts to highlight the outrageous actions of Republican lawmakers. No word yet on how long the women will continue donning helmets in their protests, but it appears they'll be ready for the GOP's next crash course in art of deception.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, July 12, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.