In today's On the News segment: Super PAC sugar daddies, Congress debates student loans, the federal campaign against marijuana dispensaries, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The oligarchs are making their voices heard this election. A new analysis of SuperPAC donations by the Center for Public Integrity finds that just ten donors are responsible for one-third of the $202 million of SuperPAC money so far this election. Of those ten donors – seven are individuals and four are billionaires. Leading the way is casino mogul Sheldon Adelson who’s dished out $26.5 million so far – mostly on Newt Gingrich’s failed campaign. Others on the list include billionaire Texas home-builder Bob Perry who’s spread his 6.7 million around between Mitt Romney and Karl Rove’s SuperPACs, Libertarian PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel who bankrolled Ron Paul’s campaign with $2.7 million, and bankster Foster Friess who propped up Rick Santorum with a couple million dollars. And then there are the anonymous donors out there who the American people will likely never know about – spending tens of millions of dollars on right-wing SuperPACs. I’m guessing Mahmoud Amadenijad is one of them, considering how good the Republican Party has been to the Iranians – selling them weapons in the 1980’s – material to build nuclear bombs in the 1990’s – and taking out their top enemy, Iraq, in the 2000s. Ahmadenijad is just making an investment for another decade of good relations with the Republican Party.
Poor children in America are screwed. The Center for American Progress is out with a new study on how the Republican budget cuts to food assistance programs will lead to millions of low-income Americans including children going hungry. Earlier this month – the House Agricultural Committee passed legislation to cut 33 billion from food assistance. Those cuts will lead to 1.8 million Americans a year getting kick off food assistance – and nearly 300,000 children losing the free school lunch program. And here’s the kicker – Republicans aren’t using the savings from these cuts to lower the deficit or stimulate the economy – they’re putting the extra money toward $3 trillion in tax cuts for the Romney-super rich in America. The Republicans-slash-Libertarian vision for the future of this nation is one in which the oligarchs ride to work in their stretch limousines as millions of working poor Americans beg for food on the streets.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House have both proposed plans to prevent the interest rate on student loans from doubling in July. Preventing the hike in interests rates will cost between four and six billion dollars – and Democrats in the Senate propose paying for it by closing what they call the “John Edwards Loophole” that allows high-priced consultants to escape from paying payroll taxes. Republicans in the House propose paying for it by slashing preventative healthcare programs included in Obamcare. So, these are the two choices: one, closing a corporate tax loophole, or two, cutting off funding to make sure Americans get the healthcare they need. In any other session of Congress – this would be an obvious choice. But with today’s Republican Party that even the Catholic Bishops say has lost its moral compass, Americans might have to choose between seeing a doctor and going to college in the near future.
A new report by the Royal Society, chaired by Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston warns that world population must be stabilized and consumption in wealthy nations must be reduced or the entire planet is in big trouble. As the report reads: “The number of people living on the planet has never been higher, their levels of consumption are unprecedented and vast changes are taking place in the environment. We can choose to rebalance the use of resources to a more egalitarian pattern of consumption ... or we can choose to do nothing and to drift into a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future.” This is the same warning that President Jimmy Carter gave Americans back in the 1970’s – but it was ignored when Ronald Reagan came to power with a “more positive” message basically telling Americans we can do whatever we want. And then after 9/11 – Bush told us all we should go shopping and consume ever more. And now with corporations calling the shots in Washington – long-term health of the planet takes a back seat to short-term profits. If we don’t change our ways soon – and embrace clean, alternative energy and educate women around the planet – then we all could be headed for a rough century.
President Obama is defending his decision to crack down on marijuana dispensaries that are legally operating in states that approved medicinal marijuana. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone – President Obama explained that he “can’t ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books” and, thus, has given the Justice Department authority to crack down large-scale producers of marijuana. The President did say his administration has not prosecuted a single-user of marijuana for medicinal purposes. But what the President doesn’t seem to understand is that sick Americans who depend on marijuana for medicinal purposes can’t have access to the medicine if the Justice Department is raiding suppliers. In just his first three years in office – President Obama has conducted nearly as many marijuana raids as George W. Bush. It’s time for the President to listen to the majority of Americans who now support marijuana legalization – and end Richard Nixon’s failed drug war.
And finally...The Donald isn’t making any friends in Scotland. This week – Donald Trump appeared before the Scottish Parliament to rail against plans to build wind turbines off the coast that could interfere with the view from Trump’s new billion- dollar golf resort. Trump warned the wind turbines will lead to Scotland “going broke” – though he offered no evidence to how embracing alternative energy would lead to such financial ruin. But considering that Trump himself has filed for bankruptcy four different times in the past – I guess he’s sort of an expert in “going broke.”
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, April 26, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.