In today's On the News segment: Scott Olsen is still in a hospital in serious condition with a fractured skull after being hit in the head with a tear gas canister during Tuesday night's police assault on Occupy Oakland, six Democrats on the Gang of 12 Supercommittee put their deficit-cutting proposal on the table yesterday, Republican efforts to subvert our democracy are rampant around the nation, Alabama immigration law requires libraries to ask for proof of citizenship before allowing individuals to check out books, and more.
You need to know this. Occupy Oakland demonstrator – and Iraq War veteran – Scott Olsen is still in a hospital in serious condition with a fractured skull after being hit in the head with a tear gas canister during Tuesday’s night police assault on Occupy Oakland. In solidarity – demonstrators returned to the streets last night – and this time police left their military tactics at home. The movement marched to San Francisco across the Bay Bridge – with only a few confrontations with police. There are reports that two individuals were arrested.
Meanwhile – a new report by the Congressional Budget Office this week reminds everyone why they’re in the streets to begin with. Looking at income data over the last three decades – most of the new wealth in America has gone straight to the top – to the top 1%. For the lowest 20% of Americans – they only saw a measly increase in income since 1979 – just 18%. For the 60% of Americans in the middle – they saw a modest gain of 40%. But for the top 1% - since Reagan took office – they’ve seen their incomes go up a whopping 275%. The top 1%’s income has nearly tripled while most everyone else’s has been unable to keep up with the rising prices of things like healthcare, gas, food, and college tuition. The new Gilded Age in America is upon us. But with action in the streets – then the Progressive Era of Teddy Roosevelt who broke up the monopolies – kicked corporations out of politics – and promoted a living wage – may be just around the corner.
The six Democrats on the Gang of 12 Super Committee put their deficit-cutting proposal on the table yesterday. In it – Democrats achieve almost $3 trillion in savings – more than twice the amount the Super Committee is obligated to find. The plan includes more than $1 trillion in new revenues – combined with massive budget cuts and even hundreds of billions of dollars cut out of Medicare – much to the chagrin of progressives. It also calls for new job creation spending – noting that if more Americans are put back to work – then revenue will go up and the deficit will go down. Despite the fact that billions are cut out of entitlement programs – Republicans dismissed the proposal immediately. As one Congressional aide said, “I don’t know why anyone would believe that Republicans would ever agree to more than $1 trillion in taxes.” The Gang of 12 has a month before they reach their deadline to come up with a deal. But as we’ve learned from previous experiments in “government by gang” – things never go well.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Republican efforts to subvert our democracy are rampant around the nation. In Tennessee – an 86-year-old veteran was essentially forced to pay a poll tax since a new law requires citizens in that state to get a photo ID to be eligible to vote in the next election. The man went to the DMV to get his new photo ID and was told he needed to pay 8 bucks for it – a clear violation of the 24th Amendment, which clearly says the rights of citizens to vote, shall not be abridged with a poll tax or any other tax. Meanwhile in Michigan – Republican lawmakers are pushing through legislation that makes it harder to register people to vote. Similar legislation has already been passed in Florida where a high school teacher is facing thousands of dollars in fines for helping her students register. And in Ohio – where an important election is looming that will determine the fate of the anti-union law SB-5 – tens of millions of dollars in outside corporate cash from shady right-wing front groups has been funneled into the state. We saw this same inundation of corporate money in the Wisconsin recall elections earlier this year – and it helped Republicans keep control of the Senate by the skin of their teeth. Thomas Jefferson famously said, “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves.” Unfortunately, with the Republican assault on democracy and voting rights around the country – it’s becoming harder and harder to hear the people’s voices.
Immigrants need not read. A new and absurd fold in the Alabama immigration law has come to light – as libraries are now asking for proof of citizenship before allowing individuals to check out books. This is the same law that has forced thousands of children to stay home form school out of fear that they could be singled out as an undocumented immigrant. And it’s the same law that also requires proof of citizenship to get access to water services in your home. So if you live in Alabama, before you leave your house – remember: wallet, phone, keys, and…immigration papers. Check.
American can no longer afford to move. According to data from the census bureau – with more young people unable to find a job and move out of the home – and senior citizens seeing their retirement savings wiped out and unable to retire to a new state – the percentage of Americans on the move last year was at it’s lowest level in recorded history. Only 11.6% of the population moved into a new home last year – the lowest level since the Census Bureau began compiling this data in 1948. Whether it’s residential mobility – or social mobility – America is turning into a rigidified class system like old India. Give it some time and Republicans will be calling poor people the “Untouchables.”
Crazy Alert! Residents of Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida are trying to figure out how a giant LEGO man washed up ashore on their beach. The 8-foot tall, 100-pound fiberglass LEGO man was found lying on the beach Tuesday with the words, “NO REAL THAN YOU ARE” scrawled across its chest. One resident said about the origins of the giant LEGO man, “I kind of think it’s from the UFO people, I really do.” Whether aliens would use LEGOs to begin their assault is unclear, but we can officially rule out the LEGO company – a representative quickly released a statement denying responsibility for the stunt. Even stranger – this isn’t the first time a LEGO man has washed ashore around the world. Back in 2007 – a LEGO man appeared in Holland. And in 2008 – a LEGO man was found washed up in England. A peculiar Dutch artist named Ego Leonard is rumored to be responsible for the LEGO man incidents - and his name was scrawled on the back of the beached LEGO man. Either that – or our worst fears have come to fruition…LEGOs have become self-aware – everyone disassemble your LEGO war ships and tanks now, before it’s too late!
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, October 27th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.