Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Congress is now taking their payroll tax cut fight to the media. Speaker of the House John Boehner and his Tea Party zombies played the Grinch yesterday – refusing to even hold a vote on the Senate’s payroll tax cut extension bill – meaning in just ten days – taxes will go up on 160 million Americans. You can call it the Tea Party Tax Increase. House Republicans left town last night to head home for the holidays – leaving behind a few members to stick around in DC to put pressure on the Senate to come back in session. House Democrats plan to stay in town, too – to put pressure on House Republicans to pass the Senate’s bipartisan compromise bill on the payroll tax cut. So now it comes down to who’ll blink first. As House Republicans make it virtually impossible to pass a tax cut for working Americans – it’s glaringly obvious why Congress has it’s lowest approval rating ever of just 11 percent.
According to new data from the Labor Department – the unemployment rate dropped in 43 states in November. But the unemployed could still get screwed by House Republicans. Extended unemployment benefits are set to expire – along with the payroll tax cut – at the beginning of next year. So if Republicans don’t pass the Senate’s compromise bill that extends both provisions for the middle class – then as many as 3 million unemployed Americans could lose their benefits next year. Last week – Republicans did pass legislation to extend unemployment benefits – however their proposal drops the number of weeks people can get unemployment from 99 down to 59 – it also gives new powers to “big government” to force the unemployed to take drug tests and enroll in GED programs. The Senate’s bill meanwhile – just extends the benefits without creating more big government to analyze our body fluids.
In the best of the rest of the news…
While speaking in Africa – IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the world economy is at a “very dangerous juncture.” Highlighting the instability in Europe, Lagarde warned African leaders that their nations could feel the effects of a global banking meltdown as well. Earlier this month – the United Nations cut its growth forecasts for the world economy – warning that we are “teetering on the brink of a major downturn.” Although the banksters all said that austerity would solve our problems, I guess they were wrong again – austerity has only made our economic problems worse.
The Chinese probably know more about the Chamber of Commerce’s lobbying efforts than we do. According to The Wall Street Journal, a group of Chinese computer hackers breached the computer defenses of the Chamber of Commerce – giving them access to all the information stored online regarding the Chamber and its three million members. A Chamber internal investigation found that the hackers likely had access to the Chamber of Commerce for more than a year between 2009 and 2010 – before the hack was discovered. The cyber operation involved at least 300 Internet addresses and is one of the boldest hacks in the ongoing U.S.-China cyber war. So now, all questions regarding just how much money the Chamber of Commerce plans to funnel into the 2012 elections in secret, corporate cash should be directed to the Chinese government.
More trouble at Fukushima. Nuclear safety experts are accusing the Japanese government of lying after 230 tons of radioactive waste was found in a tunnel underneath the crippled nuclear plant – just a few days after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko said the crisis is over. That, combined with news that Unit 4 at the plant is on the verge of collapsing, suggests that the Japanese government is still misleading the world on just how severe the Fukushima crisis still is.
The United States government is calling on Science and Nature
The fact-checkers need fact-checking. Yesterday Politifact named the Democrats' claim that Paul Ryan and the Republicans voted to end Medicare – as the “Lie of the Year” – despite that fact that the Paul Ryan plan DOES indeed end Medicare – turning the guaranteed insurance programs into a voucher program for senior citizens. Michele Bachmann’s claim that the HPV vaccine causes brain damage – and Rick Perry’s claim that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme - didn’t even make the list. So now we can cross Politifact off the list of credible websites to fact check political debate.
Crazy Alert! Low-tech UFO. Residents in Cowley County, Kansas spotted a UFO this week ... it just wasn’t up in the sky. Instead the UFO was traveling on the back of a flatbed freight truck. The 32-foot unidentified freighting object – was shaped like a saucer – and wrapped in a tarp as it was driven through town. The object was so big – police had to remove street signs so that it could turn a corner. According to the local Sheriff – the transport company told police that this was the only way the craft could be transported – and the police should, “not say a whole lot about it.” News has it that the craft is humanoid in origin – and is actually an experimental unmanned drone built by Northrop Grumman – which, of course, is a likely cover-up story. The real question is – why has alien technology fallen so far behind that it only produces clunky UFOs that rely on flatbed diesel trucks to move? Either it's the pigeons, or Reaganomics has gone interstellar.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, December 21, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.