In today's On the News segment: Congressional Republicans took a vacation in the middle of the spending/shutdown battle, Florida Gov. Rick Scott brags about killing jobs, police used violence against Wall Street protesters this weekend despite no clear evidence of provocation, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Republicans in the House of Representatives left for another vacation this week – forcing Democrats in the Senate to either accept the Republicans’ job-killing spending bill – or let the government shut down and leave victims of natural disasters without any help. Unless Congress agrees upon a spending bill by Friday - then the government will shut down. Not only that – FEMA is expected to run out of money this week too. Before leaving town – Republicans passed a spending bill that included disaster relief money that was offset by spending cuts to a green cars program that could cost the nation thousands of jobs. But, arguing that disaster relief has never been offset before – especially by spending cuts that will kill jobs during a recession – Democrats in the Senate promptly rejected the House’s spending bill last week – and plan to vote on their own bill today without the spending cuts – barring a Republican filibuster. But where are House Republicans to negotiate on it? Sitting by the pool in their home districts – and House leadership says they have no intention of calling their members back to Washington to do their jobs. Once again – taking a vacation is more important to Republicans than making sure Americans devastated by natural disasters get the help they need. And the bonus for Republicans looking at 2012 is that if their bill is passed, tens of thousands more workers get laid off, making President Obama's job getting re-elected even harder.
Not only is Governor Rick Scott killing jobs in Florida – he’s also bragging about it. Speaking at a CPAC conference last Friday – Scott touted his record of laying off public sector workers. With an unemployment rate at 10.7% - way above the national average – Scott said, “We’ve had plenty of success so far…we have 15,000 less government jobs in the state of Florida.” Upon hearing that – his audience cheered – which isn’t too big of a surprise since Republicans have cheered executions, sick people dying, and homophobia – why not cheer job losses too. Then Scott repeated the same right-wing talking point that “government doesn’t create jobs.” Right – tell that to the mailman, the police officer, and the teacher. Since President Obama took office – more than half a million government workers have been laid off in mostly Republican states – which is the real reason why our nation’s unemployment rate is still above 9%.
In the best of the rest of the news…
The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration took a turn toward violence over the weekend. More than 80 people were arrested Saturday as demonstrators marched from Zucotti Park to Union Square in lower Manhattan. And videos show police officers using tasers and pepper spray against the crowd – despite no clear evidence of provocation. The protest against Wall Street and growing wealth inequality in America began more than a week ago on September 17th – and though it fizzled out in the days after – it once again kicked back up over the weekend. Let’s hope their message cuts through both the police officers trying to silence them – and the media that’s ignoring them – and resonates around the nation.
23,000 nurses walked off the job last Thursday in a one-day strike to protest changes in patient services and cuts to nurses’ pay. The nurses claim that changes at California hospitals owned by Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente will force nurses to work when they are sick and expose seriously ill patients to greater risk of infection. When the nurses attempted to return back to work on Friday – they were locked out – and replaced by temporary nurses hired by the hospital. Unfortunately – over the weekend – a patient at one of the hospitals died according to the AP – when one of the temporary nurses made a medical error and administered the wrong drug. Arguing that the hospital hired unqualified staff – the California Nurses Association filed a complaint with the State Department of Health. This case just goes to show that America’s nurses play a vital role in the well being of our nation – and when they are targeted by hospitals that put profits ahead of patient care – then bad things happen.
They say when people get richer – they get more Conservative. The same is true of corporations – as they get bigger – they get more Conservative. Enter Google. Facing anti-trust threats – Google is dumping huge amounts of money into K-Street lobbyists and right-wing organizations. So far this year – Google spent $3.5 million on lobbying and now has a team of 93 lobbyists working on their behalf. As far as political contributions go – Google is moving away from it’s more progressive leanings and now donating heavily to the likes of the Heritage Foundation – the American Enterprise Institute – the Competitive Enterprise Institute – and the Republican State Leadership Committee – among other right-wing groups. Not to mention that Google just teamed up with Fox so-called News to host the most recent Republican debate. If right-wingers seize control of the Internet – then our nation really is in serious trouble.
Conservatives in France were shown the door by voters yesterday. In what was an historic election – The Socialist Party – and its Communist and Green Party allies - took control of the French Senate for the first time in that nation’s recent history – dealing a huge blow to Conservative President Nicholas Sarkozy’s re-election chances next year. Francois Hollande – a leader within France’s Socialist Party and the man likely to challenge Sarkozy for President next year - said about yesterday’s elections, “Nicolas Sarkozy will go down in history as the president that lost the Right its majority in the Senate…In a way it's like a premonition of what will happen in 2012." French voters were angry with the Conservative government over corruption charges and persistently high unemployment. Let’s hope voters here make the same connection in 2012 with the bought-out-Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, September 26th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.