Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. President Obama declared the state of the union is “Getting stronger” last night before a joint-session of Congress. But to ensure the nation continues to get better – the President laid out a series of proposals he's challenging a Republican Congress to pass and send to his desk. One is encouraging “insourcing” of jobs – meaning giving tax breaks to companies that bring jobs back to America – while cutting off tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. That proposal didn’t draw any applause from the Republican side of the chamber, which seems to favor outsourcing American jobs as it makes more money for the big corporations that fund their Party. The President also called for a minimum tax to be paid by multinational corporations – many of which have paid their CEOs more than they’ve paid in taxes over the last 3 years. Again, no Republican applause. He also called on these same corporations to ask themselves what it is they can do for their country. The Buffett Rule also made an appearance in last night’s speech – as the President pressed Congress to change that tax code to ensure that millionaires and billionaires like Mitt Romney don’t get by paying a lower tax rate than most middle class Americans. In fact – he called for a 30% minimum tax on millionaires – again, no applause from the Republican side, which prefers the status quo of massive wealth inequality and unfair taxation. Republicans aside, though, it appears the President’s message resonated with the American people last night. A CBS poll of speech watchers found that 91% of Americans approved of the proposals put forward by the President – and 83% approved of the economic plans laid out – a jump from 53% before the speech. Now what will be interesting to watch is how much money is thrown at Republicans by Wall Street billionaires and transnational corporations to block all of these initiatives from the President.
Our democracy is screwed. A report by the Center for Responsive Politics found that outside corporate spending so far this election year is far outpacing what it was in 2008. $44.6 million dollars have been spent by outside groups on electioneering so far – compared to just $23 million at this point in 2008. We can thank the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 for the uptick in outside corporate spending, since nearly all of that $44.6 million in electioneering so far comes from SuperPACs. Republicans are relying on these SuperPACs the most – as they’ve benefitted from nearly $38 million in SuperPAC spending, versus Democrats who’ve only picked up $6.6 million. We’re on the verge of a billion dollar election in America – something that’s never come close to happening before in our nation’s history. Unless we want to keep letting millionaires, billionaires, and corporations speak louder in our election – then we need to pass a constitutional amendment soon that says corporations are not people and money is not speech. Go to MoveToAmend.org.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Across the pond – the United Kingdom took one step closer to recession. Their economy shrank by .2% in the fourth quarter last year – as manufacturing slowed down and the service sector weakened. Ever since the Conservative government under Prime Minister David Cameron came to power and put in place an austerity agenda – the British economy has stagnated and crept closer to the brink of a double-dip recession. Austerity only helps the banksters – not working people and not national economies. So don’t let Republican bring it to the United States.
More trouble at Fukushima. TEPCO – the owners of the Fukushima plant – announced this week that radioactive fallout from reactor 1 is higher this month than it was last month – indicating the situation may once again be getting worse. In December – 60 Becquerels of radioactive fallout was measured around the reactor – but this month 70 Becquerels was recorded. Nearly ten months since an earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant in Japan – the situation is still volatile. The ongoing nuclear crisis sends a strong message to the United States – and our lawmakers including President Obama – who are committed to more nuclear power in America. We can’t risk it – no more nukes!
Tech giant Apple blew away expectations when it released its quarterly numbers this week. The company sold more than 37 million Iphones and more than 15 million Ipads – raising the company’s total amount of cash on hand to nearly $100 billion. Of course – most of those profits are thanks to Apple's refusal to build its products in America, putting huge profits over patriotism.
Mitt Romney definitely is Wall Street’s favorite guy. Not only is he making banksters jealous by paying only a 15% tax rate on over $40 million of income – but he also makes so much money that he joins the ranks of the 1% ever single week. But beyond that – Romney’s Presidential campaign has received more in donations from the nation’s five biggest banks on Wall Street than all the other Republican Presidential candidates COMBINED. Through the first three quarters of 2011 – Romney scooped up over $600,000 from banksters – outpacing all the other candidates including President Obama who’s only collected $200,000 from the big banks. Wall Street is banking on Republicans winning the White House as nearly 70% of its donation have gone to the Republican Party this presidential cycle – a trend that – if it continues – would mark the most-lopsided spending toward one party in 2 decades of elections in America. The writing is on the wall: if Republicans win this year – Wall Street wins too.
So much for the rumor of the “elite liberal media.” According to a report from Roll Call – the Sunday morning talk shows like Meet the Press andFace the Nation – featured 200 percent more Republicans on as guests last year than Democrats. In 2009 and 2010 – Republicans were also featured more than Democrats on the morning shows – but 2011 has been by far the most skewed year in terms of representation by parties on these shows. With these facts – it’s going to be pretty tough for Newt Gingrich to keep focusing his presidential campaign solely on a slanted and "liberal" media.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, January 25th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news…