In today's On the News segment: More than eight in ten school districts across the nation say they are inadequately funded; support for the Afghanistan war has now reached an all-time low; an end in sight to the bloodshed in Syria might be near; by using at least 20 different tax shelters, ExxonMobil was able to pay fewer taxes than even Mitt Romney; and more.
Karl Frisch here in for Thom Hartmann – on the news....
You need to know this. Paul Ryan released his grim vision of America last week that includes taking health insurance away from more than 50 million Americans to pay for a $3 trillion tax cut to the top 1%. This week – Progressive Democrats have released their vision for the future of America. The Progressive Caucus budget released on Monday achieves even better deficit deficit reduction goals – and doesn't rely on cutting the social safety net for the poor like Paul Ryan's plan does. On the revenue side – the Progressive budget ends the Bush tax cuts fro millionaires and billionaires – and phases in increases to the top tax rates to ensure that the super rich are paying their fair share again taxes. It also enacts a financial transaction tax on Wall Street so that banksters can pay for the damage they've causes to our economy. It saves Social Security by getting rid of the cap that allowed wealthy people to pay a lower Social Security tax than working people. And it ends emergency war funding by 2014. On the investment side – the Progressive budget includes 2.9 trillion in infrastructure job creation to employ 2 million Americans – and creates a public option health insurance plan. There couldn't be a bigger difference between the Paul Ryan budget which makes the rich richer and the Progressive Budget which saves the middle class – so which one would you choose?
Students are screwed. A new survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that more than 8 in 10 school districts across the nation say they are inadequately funded. Not only that – half of all the school district say they are expecting even more budget cuts in the coming school year. To deal with the budget cuts – schools are laying off teachers – increasing class sizes – delaying improvements like new textbooks and computers – and even cancelling summer school. Meanwhile – Conservative state legislatures in several states are diverting critical resources from public schools to private, for-profit schools that have been proven to not offer any better educational results but DO cost struggling families a lot more money. It's not only our roads and bridges that are crumbling – but also our most important form of infrastructure – our intellectual infrastructure – that is collapsing too.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Support for the Afghanistan War has now reached an all-time low. According to a new CBS/New York Times poll – 69% of Americans say the United States shouldn't be involved in Afghanistan anymore. That's up 16 points from just four months ago. Of course – in those four months – we've seen the stress of war take an unbelievable toll on our soldiers – from desecrating bodies – to burning Korans – to massacring Afghan civilians. Afghanistan is now the longest war in our nation's history – and it's the same battlefield that sunk the Soviet Union's empire too.
Is there an end in sight to the bloodshed in Syria? Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan says that both sides in the Syrian conflict have accepted a peace deal that will include the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers and the beginning of political discussions. The deal will also allow for humanitarian assistance to areas ravaged by the ongoing conflict, the release of prisoners, freedom of movement in the country, and access for journalists. The plan reportedly has the approval of the U.N. Security Council as well – where China and Russian have blocked attempts by the U.N. to intervene in recent weeks.
ExxonMobil – the most profitable corporation in the history of the world – isn't paying its fair share in taxes. Last year – the oil giant raked in over $41 billion in profits – that's not revenue – that's PROFITS. And even though corporations are supposed to be paying a 35% corporate tax rate – guess how much ExxonMobil paid? Try just 13%. By using at least 20 different tax shelters – and an army of accountants – ExxonMobil was able to pay fewer taxes than even Mitt Romney. On top of that – Exxon continues to benefits from billions in taxpayer oil subsidies paid for by you and me each and every year. That's corporate welfare at its finest.
The United States belongs to an exclusive club of nations that put their own citizens to death. Amnesty International is out with a new report on the death penalty – showing that only 20 out of the 198 nations worldwide carried out execution last year – the United States is one of those nations. We're also the only Western democracy to still use the death penalty. The United States ranked fifth in the world in executions in 2011 – behind nations with upstanding human rights records like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. On the bright side – worldwide, the number of nations embracing the death penalty has plummeted from ten years ago – when more than thirty counties still executed their citizens. And more and more states in the United States are taking steps to abolish the death penalty. Then again – 16 states have passed "Stand Your Ground" laws like the one that killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida – leaving it up to average citizens to play the role of judge, jury, and executioner on the streets.
And finally...of course Mitt Romney is exactly like the average voter. That is if the average voter has a car elevator in their home. Politico is reporting today that Mitt Romney is building a car elevator in his new San Diego mansion – one of three homes that Romney owns. That's an elevator that can carry a car up several floors – I guess in case Romney wants to sleep with his car in his bedroom. Rumor has it – he's also building a separate elevator for his dog – one that bypasses every floor in the house and goes straight up to the roof.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, March 27th, 2012. I'm Karl Frisch – on the news.