Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Republicans should be dancing in the streets. So says Democratic Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver after an 11th hour debt-limit deal was struck yesterday between President Obama and Congressional leaders to avoid our nation from defaulting. Unfortunately – once again – the President let right-wings take the American people hostage and then gave in to the hostage-takers. The deal – which still needs to be approved by lawmakers today – extends the debt-limit through the 2012 elections and calls for $1 trillion in spending cuts targeting mostly working families over the next decade – plus an addition $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction through revenue raisers and entitlement reforms to be determined by a six-member “Super Congress” comprised of Democrats and Republicans from both chambers of Congress. If the Super Congress can’t agree to a deal – then automatically – $750 billion will be cut from both the Pentagon and from Medicare doctor reimbursements. But still – not one single penny from hedge fund managers – subsidized oil corporations – or subsidized corporate jets – will be contributed to deficit reduction. Also not in the deal – no stimulus measures to address the real crisis in America – jobs! In fact – economists estimate that the spending cuts will actually stifle economic growth – making our REAL CRISIS – a lack of jobs – even worse and almost guaranteeing a double-dip recession. There’s nothing balanced about this deal – Republicans essentially got everything they wanted – yet the Tea Party STILL will likely not vote for it. As Paul Krugman noted – the President surrendered. And President Obama will learn the hard way that the truly transformational presidents of the 20th century did not govern by compromise – they instead held their ground. Once this deal goes through – President Obama will be viewed as even weaker than the Republican caricature of Jimmy Carter – and his presidency ruined.
Our public education system is under attack. Down in Florida – Governor Rick Scott and his Republican cohorts in the state legislature are starving public schools. $55 million dollars intended to go to repairing aging public school facilities – was instead redirected to exclusively fund for-profit charter schools. In total – about 350 for-profit schools will share the $55 million – leaving over 3,000 public schools that desperately need money left holding an empty bag. Not only that – President Obama's Secretary of Education – Arne Duncan – just announced $49 million in federal education grants that will also go exclusively to New York and Florida for-profit charter schools. And President Obama’s 2012 budget calls for $372 million to go to for-profit charter schools all around the nation. We are outsourcing the education of our children to corporate CEOs and religious leaders – neither of whom care about ACTUALLY preparing our kids for the jobs of the 21st century and competing with China. Thomas Jefferson – the guy who wrote the Declaration of Independence and devoted his life to free public education – is rolling in his grave.
In the best of the rest of the news…
The Iraq war is deteriorating. This year was supposed to be the final year of a strong US military presence in the nation – instead – it’s a year of increasing violence. July was the second deadliest month of the year in Iraq – and a new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction – Stuart Bowen Jr. – shows that Iraq is more violent today than it was one year ago. With an uptick in bombings, assassinations, and militia insurgencies – Bowen called this a “summer of uncertainty” in Iraq with the likelihood of US troops actually leaving at the end of the year slim. So to recap - we leave Afghanistan and go to Iraq – then Afghanistan catches on fire. We leave Iraq and go to Afghanistan – then Iraq catches on fire. Welcome to George W. Bush's criminal wars – a giant and deadly game of whack-a-mole. We need to put the hammer away.
Too sick to come to work? Too bad. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won another battle against hard-working Wisconsinites last Thursday when a Milwaukee County Circuit Court struck down paid sick-leave for Milwaukee’s workers. Back in 2008 –Milwaukee voters passed a referendum with 69% of people in support that required local businesses to provide paid sick leave to their employees (like the rest of the developed world does). But in April of this year – Walker killed paid sick leave – passing legislation overturn what 69% of voters in Milwaukee wanted. And now the courts have ruled in his favor. Our economy loses $180 billion every year because we force sick people to come into work – where they infect other co-workers. This isn’t just about compassion – it’s about economics. Unfortunately – those are two things that Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans don't give a damn about.
Former Prime Minster Tony Blair is about to be put through the wringer. An official British inquiry into the Iraq War is expected to produce a number of damaging allegations against Blair – from his phony claims about Hussein’s WMDs – to not telling the British public that he already made a secret deal with George W. Bush to go to war – to not preparing a clear exit strategy to deal with post-war chaos. So here we have a CONSERVATIVE government in the UK taking Blair to task over the Iraq War. Yet here in the United States – George W. Bush is given $150,000 speaking fees and all think ink he’d like to re-write history. What happened to accountability?
Who is Michele Bachmann getting her foreign affairs advice from? The same guy Norway terrorist Anders Breivik was – Frank Gaffney. That’s right – Gaffney – the guy who Breivik cited 7 times in his terrorist manifesto – is now advising Bachmann. Gaffney told The New Republican magazine recently that he was, “a resource she has tapped,” and that he has worked with her for “hours over several days.” Gaffney also believes President Obama is a secret Muslim and that members of the President’s cabinet secretly work for the Iran lobby. If this isn’t the blind leading the blind – I don’t know what is.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, August 1st, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.