In today's On the News segment: ALEC is holding its annual conference in Chicago; one in every eight who have taken out student loans are in default on their debt; Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott is preparing to kick minority voters off the voter rolls; and more.
Here's Thom for Thursday...
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. ALEC is holding its annual conference in Chicago, where corporate lobbyists and Conservative lawmakers will get together - have a few drinks - and create more corporate-friendly, middle-class-destroying legislation. At annual ALEC meetings, corporate lobbyists sit down with Conservative lawmakers to craft bills - and then those lawmakers go back to their home states to get those bills passed and signed into law. According to Bloomberg , ALEC gets nearly 200 bills passed every year in state legislatures around the country. ALEC founded by men like Paul Weyrich, who infamously once said that he didn't want everyone to be able to vote. True to form, ALEC's recent voter suppression ID laws are spreading from state to state like a bad cold. While ALEC is primarily known for voter suppression ID and Stand Your Ground Shoot-First laws, it's reach goes much farther. The Conservative organization is well known for promoting voucher programs that drain public schools of resources by using taxpayer dollars to subsidize private school profits. ALEC also uses its "model legislation" to push laws that to limit union rights and organized labor - primarily through so-called "right to work" laws. ALEC also spends a lot of time and money on repealing minimum wage laws nationwide and fighting increases in the minimum wage. And as of late , ALEC has taken to defending the bottom-lines of Big Oil by creating "model legislation" that keeps us addicted to fossil fuels. According to the"ALEC Exposed" website, at least 77 bills have been introduced in 34 states so far this year that oppose renewable energy standards. promote fracking operations and support the Keystone XL pipeline. And ALEC is working right this minute to create more environment-destroying "model legislation" that will keep the oil industry and the Koch brothers rich.
In screwed news, according to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau analysis, "there are over 7 million borrowers in default on a federal or private student loan," which means that about one in every eight who have taken out student loans are in default on their debt. That is nearly triple the student loan default rate from a decade ago. According to the CFPB, the total balance of defaulted federal student loans including interest is $89.3 billion - money that could be going to strengthening our economy. So rather than put more Americans in student loan debt, shouldn't we stop federal student loans altogether, and make college in America free again? And, is it right that the government is profiting off of American students?
In the Best of the Rest of the News...
Yesterday the US government filed two civil lawsuits against Bank of America, accusing the big bank of investor fraud in its sale of $850 million in residential mortgage-backed securities. Bank of America has already agreed to pay over $45 billion in fines to settle disputes from its role in the 2008 financial crisis. So the question is - what does it take to send banksters to jail in America? How badly do banksters have to behave before their Republican protectors finally say enough is enough , and let them face jail time?
Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott is preparing to kick minority voters off the voter rolls just in time for his own re-election campaign. Last week, Florida's director of elections sent a letter to that state's election officials announcing that she is planning new voting roll purge. If voters don't respond to a postcard verifying their citizenship within a certain time frame, they will be automatically removed from the voting rolls. According to state officials, the purge is supposed to stop non-citizens from voting - but civil liberties groups say it's really just a blatant attempt to prevent Democrat-leaning minority voters from heading to the polls. Florida tried a similar voting purge last year, but it had to stop the plan after it was revealed that its list of non-citizens was filled with - well – citizens. The serious question: is there any voter law out there that hurts upper middle-class white people?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual State of the Climate report, last year was one of the top 10 warmest ever recorded and broke numerous climate-related records. At a press conference yesterday, acting NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan said that the findings of the report show a "new normal" for the Earth and could help shape U.S. policy for addressing the impacts of climate change and global warming. Meanwhile, according to a new report by the Department of Energy, 2012 was a great year for the U.S. wind industry. Wind energy installations increased to 13.1 gigawatts (a 90 percent increase over 2011) and average long-term wind power prices fell to their lowest point since 2005. So, should we just a just to the "new normal" of climate change and global warming or should we be investing more in renewable sources of energy like wind, solar and others, that will help break our addiction to fossil fuels?
And finally... Watch out good people of Christian America! The liberals are coming for your gym towels! Earlier this week former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum announced that he's "open" to another run for President in 2016. But it turns out he's not so "open" when it comes to showering and working out with people from across the aisle. Santorum said, "Liberals 'make it uncomfortable' to shower at the YMCA." In case you couldn't tell, when Santorum says "Liberals" he means gay people. When someone is this obsessed with gay people, their preoccupation with all the ways they're going to try and grab him when he's in the shower – well, there's only one explanation. Musician Katie Goodman put it best in her song, Probably Gay. Her lyrics say, "While only 34% of the non-homophobic were turned on by gay porn, a whopping 80% of the homophobic men were." Yes, I'm sorry to be the one that has to say it - If you're homophobic - You're probably gay.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, August 8, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.