In today's On the News segment: Legislation that would penalize employers for lockouts in labor disputes introduced in Minnesota, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Republicans hate tax increases... unless they're part of Paul Ryan's budget plan. Six hundred billion dollars in new revenue, fought for by President Obama and opposed by Congressional Republicans, is just one of the many surprises in Paul Ryan's new GOP budget. According to Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, new revenue generated from ending the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy is included in the GOP plan because Republicans lost on the tax issue. Despite their doomsday predictions that Obama's tax plan would crush so-called job-creators and harm the economy, Republicans are now happy to make them part of the Paul Ryan budget. In prior years, when Democrats projected $600 billion in savings from decreased war spending, Paul Ryan dismissed the idea as "phantom savings" - yet now he has those very same projections as part of his own budget proposal. Despite incorporating multiple Obama policies in their budget, don't think Republicans are giving up on their austerity measures just yet. In typical GOP fashion, Ryan's budget calls for huge cuts to vital social service programs, like food stamps, job training, Medicare, and Medicaid. And just in case those cuts wouldn't be painful enough, Ryan's entire budget hinges on the repeal of Obamacare. Without defunding healthcare for millions of Americans, his numbers don't add up. Considering the fact that Obama has repeatedly said he would veto any attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and Democrats in the Senate would block any such legislation, we can only conclude that Paul Ryan knows his budget is doomed to fail. It's clear that Republicans have no intention of working with the President to negotiate an honest, realistic budget plan. Ryan's budget is a farce, aimed at scoring political points with the tea party base, rather than helping the American people .
In screwed news... The U.S. Government has notified 60,000 border security workers that they will soon face furloughs because of Republican austerity measures. Customs and Border Protection must cut $754 million from it's budget by September 30th, meaning international travelers can expect longer lines at airports, huge delays at ports, and fewer border patrol officers at international checkpoints. The agency aims to reduce spending through furloughs, a hiring freeze, reductions in overtime hours, and reduced levels of training. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expects customs wait times to increase by 150-200%, and she said, "I don't mean to scare, I mean to inform. If you're traveling, get to the airport earlier than you otherwise would. There's only so much we can do with personnel." Despite GOP claims that they favor strong boarder security, tax break security for millionaires and billionaires appears to mean even more to them. Republican obstinacy on the sequester is putting our national security in jeopardy, just to be sure their rich buddies never have to pay their fair share.
In the best of the rest of the news...
In Minnesota, employers may have to think twice about using worker lockouts during labor disputes. Lockouts have long been a common employer tactic in Minnesota, but state Representative Joe Atkins has introduced legislation to protect workers, and charge employers a penalty for keeping employees from their jobs. The Employer Lockout Accountability Act has bipartisan support in the Minnesota state legislature, and grew out of the American Crystal Sugar lockout, which has been ongoing since August of 2011. The Minnesota AFL-CIO has expressed support for the legislation, saying that the impact of lockouts stretches well beyond those who are kept from work. The AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, Steve Hunter, said, "there's a community effect beyond just the workers themselves, and we thank that, by ensuring some economic security for those workers, we can help mitigate those community effects as well." With our right to organize being attacked in so many states throughout our nation, it's nice to see Rep. Atkins working to protect unionized workers in Minnesota.
On Saturday, 200,000 people took to the streets of Taiwan to protest nuclear power. Just two days before the two year anniversary of the meltdown of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, protesters demanded their government stop allocating funding for a fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei City. More than 6.5 million people live in close proximity to the plant, which is scheduled to be completed later this year – after 14 years of construction and about $10 billion of taxpayer money. One organizer in the protest said, "we have to take to the streets for the good of the next generation." After disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, it's easy to understand how dangerous nuclear energy is. Let's join with the 200,000 protesters in Taiwan, and take a stand for the good of the next generation of Americans too. No nukes!
Despite the flurry of people rushing out to buy assault weapons, and reports of empty shelves at gun stores, fewer Americans are purchasing guns. According to new data from the General Social Survey, people who already own guns are simply buying more. While 50% of households owned guns in the 1970's, only 34% reported guns in the home by 2012. Addressing the record sales levels at gun stores, Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said, "I suspect the increase in gun sales has been limited mostly to current gun owners." If the NRA and it's fellow gun-nuts hadn't blocked commonsense regulations like a national gun registry, we could verify this data. Let's keep pushing Congress to enact some real gun reforms, before the gun-nuts have a chance to hoard any more fire power.
And finally... On Saturday, bikers in San Francisco bared it all for the environment. Protestors of all shapes and sizes came out in the buff to take part in the World Naked Bike Ride, which is an international demonstration against our dependence on fossil fuels. Riders were warned that a new law prohibited public nudity, but risked citations to bring attention to this important cause. Although this type of protest may not be for everyone, we applaud those brave enough to bare all for green energy. And we hope they remembered the sun block.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, March 11, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.