Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Welcome to the chaotic American economy. One day after the Dow Jones suffered it’s worst single day decline since the height of Bush financial crisis in 2008 – plummeting 512 points – new job numbers were released showing better than expected job growth. The economy added 117,000 jobs last month – lowering the unemployment rate from 9.2% to 9.1% - even though layoffs surged in July – and new GDP numbers showed the economic recovery stalling out. The new jobs are just barely enough to keep up with population growth – and economists still fear a double-dip recession is right around the corner. After all – the most recent debt-limit deal – that Speaker John Boehner is boasting he got 98% of what he wanted in it – is expected to cost the economy 1.8 million jobs by next year – and suck over $200 billion from the economy – just in time for the 2012 elections. And Republicans are planning at least three more hostage-taking, economy-killing actions just this year. Looks like Republicans WILL get exactly what they want – a crashed economy to hang around the neck of President Obama before next year’s elections.
The Republican hostage-takers get what they want…again. Yesterday – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the Senate will pass the House Republicans’ version of the FAA funding bill that strips subsidies to rural airports mostly in Democratic districts – and makes it much more difficult for federal air and rail workers to unionize. The bill is expected to pass the Senate today – putting the 74,000 FAA and construction workers – who were the victims of the last Republican hostage scenario – back to work. Senate leadership said nothing about the anti-union provision in the funding bill that will only keep the FAA up and running until mid-September when lawmakers return from their vacation. So expect this break in the FAA hostage crisis to only be temporary.
In the best of the rest of the news…
It’s good to be a millionaire in America. A new report from the Center for American progress shows that millionaires are paying – as a share of their income – 25% less in taxes than they were in the mid 1990’s – 25% less! But that’s not all – according to data from the IRS – in 2009 – 1,400 millionaires paid absolutely no taxes at all. So just like some of the biggest transnational corporations in the world like GE and Exxon Mobile – 1,400 millionaires were off the hook and didn’t have to pitch in one penny to Uncle Sam. In fact – the average federal income tax rate for millionaires in America is around 22% - far less than what your typical schoolteacher in Wisconsin is paying. And despite the fact that a majority of Americans support tax hikes on millionaires – our millionaires – as well as billionaires – and transnational corporations – once again escaped without having to make one sacrifice in the name of deficit reduction like the rest of us. Last time I checked – the Constitution doesn’t say, “We the millionaires…”
Thank you Citizens United. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign war chest just got a million dollars heavier – and no one knows who’s responsible. In one of the biggest contributions yet of this political season – the company W Span LLC cut a check to Mitt Romney for one million dollars – and then disappeared. The company was incorporated in March – made the contribution in April – and the dissolved by July. No one really knows who was running the company during that time – and the owner of the Manhattan address that was listed for the company claims he has no records of the company ever setting up shop there. So essentially – Mitt Romney just got a million bucks out of thin air – that could have come from some billionaire hedge fund manager – some Chinese business tycoon – or some Saudi Prince. The Justice Department is looking into the matter – but either way – thanks to our Supreme Court's Citizens United decision – the American people no longer have the right to know where their political candidates are getting their money. Expect this mysterious and sinister million-dollar contribution to be the first of many heading into next year’s first Presidential election after the unelected Justices Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy re-wrote our election laws.
Surprise – after the dysfunction of Congress was put on full display in the debt-limit debacle – new numbers show Congress’s disapproval rating is at an all-time high of 82%. That’s the worst rating for Congress since the New York Times started keeping track back in 1977. But looking closer at the numbers – it’s clear one party is more to blame than the other. Speaker of the House John Boehner’s disapproval rating is up 16 points since July to 57% - ten points higher than President Obama. Also – Republican disapproval rating in Congress is at 72% - Democrats just 66%. This fits perfectly into the anti-American Republican political strategy: Run on a platform of no government – get elected and run government into the ground – then run for re-election on a platform of no government.
Thirsty? Go to Mars! NASA reported a huge discovery on the red planet yesterday – flowing water. New pictures show what look to be dark streams on the Martian surface that appear to change seasonally – indicating that salt water may be present on our nearest planetary neighbor. NASA Administrator Charles Boldin said about the discovery, “NASA's Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form." Well – as soon as we find out – can we send the Ron Paul and Ayn Rand Libertarians up there so they can start their “free-market” commune? It's that’s never worked anywhere it’s been tried on Earth, but maybe the lower gravity on Mars will change the laws of economics there.
Crazy Alert! Meet the world’s worst neighbor – David Muscat. The Australian homeowner isn’t making any friends in his Park Orchards neighborhood. After a complaint was filed against him for removing trees from his front yard – Muscat went ahead and replaced the trees with something else – a giant middle finger. That’s right – Muscat constructed an enormous wooden hand flipping the bird to everyone who walks by his house. Muscat is also accused of head-butting and turning a leaf blower on to one neighbor – while another nearby resident has described Muscat as “the neighbor from hell.” However – despite the giant blank-you to his neighbors – Muscat’s approval rating in the Orchard Park neighborhood is still likely higher than Republicans in Congress.
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, August 5th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.