In today's On the News Segment: the Supreme Court's recent decision (or lack thereof) reinforces the corporate oligarchy, while denying the public option; European austerity isn't working for anyone; the Fast and Furious documents scandal embroil Republicans; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The Supreme Court did not hand down a ruling on the constitutionality of Obamacare today, but it will within the next week. However, we already know who won the battle of public opinion regarding health reform – and that's the big spending corporate oligarchs. The New York Times reports that opponents of Obamacare have massively outspent supporters of Obamacare on the TV airwaves since the +Affordable Care Act was signed by President Obama back in 2010. Over $235 million have been spent on TV ads attacking the President's health reform law, while only $69 million have been spent supporting the law. That's well above a 3-to-1 advantage. The Chamber of Commerce spent $27 million on attack ads against the law, while Karl Rove's Crossroads SuperPACs spent $24 million, and the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity has, so far, spent $6 million. That point is – advertising works, and the side that's willing or able to spend the most money on advertising usually wins. We saw this play out in the 2010 midterms, when corporate money catapulted Tea Part Republicans into Congress. And we saw this again earlier this month, when Governor Scott Walker outspent his opponent at least 9-to-1 to survive a recall election in Wisconsin. In post-Citizens United America, big money almost always wins.
In screwed news...there's more proof that the European austerity regime isn't working. A new report by Eurostat – the EU's official statistics agency – found that countries that didn't adopt austerity have seen gains in household consumption and economic activity – while countries that have adopted austerity are watching consumption fall and their economies stagnate. For example, Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Ireland have all seen their household consumption fall below the EU average since passing austerity spending cuts. Less household consumption means people are spending less money and businesses are hiring fewer workers. But Finland, Austria, and Germany – countries that didn't inflict austerity on their people – all have seen household consumption grow – and are well above the EU average. This shouldn't be too surprising, since austerity is meant to shrink economies, which is why Republicans in the United States are champions for austerity – they want the economy to tank.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Darryl Issa did it. The Republican Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee convened a vote Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over Holder's refusal to turn over documents related to the DOJ's Fast and Furious program. Those documents could compromise active criminal investigations, and have been withheld by the President using executive privilege. But Issa moved forward anyway – getting all 23 Republicans on his Committee to support the contempt vote, while every single Democrat on the Committee voted no. The best reaction to Wednesday's vote came from former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – who slammed it as "strictly political" and reminded reporters that when Democrats controlled the House, they could have arrested Karl Rove for contempt of Congress, but chose not to because "it didn't serve our country." So Republicans hold an Attorney General in contempt over a bizarre conspiracy theory, yet war criminals and operatives who leak names of CIA agents for political retaliation get to walk.
A new report by the Department of Energy claims the United States has enough existing renewable energy to supply 80% of the nation's electricity use by 2050. This is the largest study to date regarding our nation's renewable energy capacity. But it's reminiscent of a 1978 White House report during the Carter Administration that suggested the United States could become a "solar society" by the year 2020. Unfortunately, we know what happened since then. Ronald Reagan moved into the White House and took down the solar panels atop it. And for the next 30 years, big oil exerted more and more influence on our government to keep us all addicted to their product, culminating in 2000 when two oil men – Bush and Cheney – were elected to the White House. If we're ever going to get off our 19th century oil binge and join the rest of the world in using 21st century renewable energy sources – then we need to kick the oil barons out of our government.
Speaking of oil barons in our government – the Republic Report today exposed Republican Senator Lindsey Graham as a shill for big oil. As reporter Zaid Jilani reveals, earlier this month Senator Graham introduced the "South Carolina Off-shore Drilling Act," which opens up areas off the coast of South Carolina to oil and gas drilling. This law is great for oil and natural gas companies that want to expand their pollution off the coast, but it's terrible for residents along the coast who fear oil spills and who wish their lawmakers would instead pursue renewable energy. To show their appreciation, three days after Senator Graham introduced the bill, the American Gas Association, along with several other gas and oil interest groups, threw the Senator a lavish fundraiser. This blatant quid-pro-quo of favorable legislation returned with hefty campaign contributions should worry all of us who want a democracy free from corruption. And, it's more proof that we really do have the best government money can buy.
And finally...Mitt Romney is forcing Republican Governors into an awkward position. Knowing that his best chance to win the White House is if the economy crashes, Mitt Romney is asking Republican Governors to downplay any boasting about job creation within their states. Bloomberg News reports that Romney's campaign reached out to Florida Governor Rick Scott, asking him to "tone down" his talk of job growth in the Sunshine State since it hurts the Romney campaign's message that President Obama is hurting the economy. Members of the media, members of both political parties, and I have been saying for years that Republicans are trying to crash the economy to win the election in November. And when an economy is improving, that means they also have to lie about it to win.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, June 21, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.