In today's On the News segment: Walker recall proponents receive death threats, new study shows elderly working far into retirement, supercommittee talks collapsed over the weekend, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The Gang of 12 SuperCongress is a super failure. Talks collapsed over the weekend – and Members of the Gang of 12 entrusted with finding $1.2 trillion in budget savings are saying that any sort of deal is highly unlikely at this point. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday – that the sticking point of negotiations had become the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and what to do with them after they expire at the end of next year. While Democrats were pushing for the generous tax breaks to expire for millionaires and billionaires – Republicans were pushing for a permanent extension for the rich and more tax cuts for the super-rich. So, despite the fact that Democrats on the Gang of 12 put on the table heavy-handed cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid – and drastically reduced their proposal for more revenue – Republicans still couldn’t meet them half-way – siding with their unelected demi-God Grover Norquist against what’s best for the nation. Now – the trigger is supposed to kick in – which is $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts to both social welfare programs and defense programs. But Republicans are already trying to dismantle the trigger – with legislation expected to drop this week to strip defense cuts from the trigger. That means – Republicans could walk away form this whole deal on top – not being forced to raise any taxes – and not having to see any cuts to billionaire war profiteers. Now the question is – were Republicans ever faithful bargainers to begin with? Or was this the plan all along – all the way back to when Speaker of the House John Boehner said he got 98% of what he wanted in the debt-limit deal that created this Gang of 12 SuperCongress?
Who’s screwed? American patriots practicing their first amendment rights to free speech. Two campus police officers with the University of California, Davis are on paid administrative leave after video surfaced over the weekend of them dousing a group of occupying patriots sitting peacefully on the sidewalk with a can of pepper spray. In addition – calls on campus are growing for the Chancellor of the University, Linda Katehi, to resign, since she was the one who ordered the police in to break up the occupation. She has since apologized and has promised an investigation into the use of excessive force. Meanwhile – cops patrolling the Occupy Boston encampment are hoping the weather will finish off the patriots in Bean Town. In the last few days – as temperatures dropped – police have been confiscating materials like insulation and winterized tents. As one member of Occupy Boston said about the police, “they are trying to cause people to freeze…they’re trying to flush us out.” On top of that – DC lobbying firms are getting in the game too. A leaked memo from a lobbying group outlines a plan to destroy the Occupy Wall Street Movement with “opposition research” and “negative narratives” for the small price tag of $850,000 – to be paid for by the American Bankers Association. When it comes to the 99% Movement – free speech is literally being chilled.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Violent clashes continue in Egypt – as activists take to the streets to demand the military relinquish its grip on power. So far – at least 24 people have died in clashes with security forces. According to Egyptian State Television – the military is justifying their violent crackdown against demonstrators by pointing out how police in the United States are responding to the Occupy Wall Street movement. As one anchor on Egyptian television said, “We saw the firm stance the US [police] took against OWS people.” Not the sort of example we want to be setting for the rest of the world.
Retirement is a bygone luxury. With the social safety net in tatters – more and more senior citizens have to delay plans to retire. According to a new survey by Wells Fargo – three-quarters of senior citizens who earn less than $100,000 said they need to work well into their retirement years to keep afloat – with one-quarter even saying they’ll need to work until they’re 80. Based on the latest Census data – 16% of senior citizens in America now live in poverty. In addition – the number of children living in poverty increased by one million last year. They say you can judge the success of a society by how it treats its old and its young. We’re failing on both accounts. And forget about the job market opening up for young people, with the elderly hanging onto their positions.
Those working around the clock to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker now have to worry about their own safety. According to police – several Walker opponents have received death threats in the middle of the night – and had political signs in front of their homes vandalized or stolen. Some of the threatening phone calls seem to be coordinated – with the phone number linked back to Minnesota. Despite the threats – organizers announced that they’re already one-fifth of the way to collecting enough signatures to recall Walker – with more than 100,000 people already signing on to recall petitions.
And finally…a new poll by Reuters shows that it’s Newt Gingrich’s turn in the spotlight. He now leads the Republican field in the race for the White House with 24% of the vote. Mitt Romney is in his usual second place position. Gingrich’s surge in the polls comes on the heels of a new report that he earned millions of dollars as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac while the Housing bubble was being inflated. Undeterred – Gingrich gave a speech over the weekend at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government – where he called child labor laws “stupid.” Gingrich then offered up a radical proposal for schools to fire unionized janitors and instead put poor students to work cleaning the buildings. That leaves lots of time to study and produce world-class educational outcomes, right? I guess as a front-runner – Gingrich now has to prove that when it comes to the race to the bottom that is the Republican primary – he’s in it to win it. Plus – with all the new campaign donations – Newt can open up a second line of credit at Tiffany’s.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, November 21st, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.