John Boehner and his Tea Party zombies played the Grinch yesterday

Congress is now taking their payroll tax cut fight to the media. Speaker of the House John Boehner and his Tea Party zombies played the Grinch yesterday – refusing to even hold a vote on the Senate’s payroll tax cut extension bill – meaning in just 10 days – taxes will go up on 160 million Americans. You can call it the Tea Party Tax Increase. House Republicans left town last night to head home for the holidays – leaving behind a few members to stick around in DC to put pressure on the Senate to come back in session. House Democrats plan to stay in town, too – to put pressure on House Republicans to pass the Senate’s bipartisan compromise bill on the payroll tax cut. So now it comes down to who’ll blink first. As House Republicans make it virtually impossible to pass a tax cut for working Americans – it’s glaringly obvious why Congress has it’s lowest approval rating ever of just 11%.


waitwill's picture
waitwill 12 years 26 weeks ago

Can anyone give me a link to the poison pills Thom was referencing at the begining of the first hour? The drug-testing, and other restrictions on unemployment benefits?

j.sea's picture
j.sea 12 years 26 weeks ago

Thank you for making public note of this morning's NPR coverage of the payroll tax standoff;
I was deeply disturbed by the slant or the ignorance of the story, as reported. Thank you.
This deserves national attention. To make NO mention of the attachments to the bill that House
Republicons are pushing is incredibly unprofessional -- and dangerous for the country,
given the number of people that depend on NPR for accurate information.

Revising History's picture
Revising History 12 years 26 weeks ago

You're absolutely right. It is a media echochamber. Fox and MSNBC do not represent the polar extremes of opinion, nor do they represent the only opinions. To pretend halfway between the center and the right-of Atilla-the-Hun is the "objective" view, and to think that any other facts from third parties (or fact-checking it at all) are not relevant, abrogates their authority and changes what they do from "journalist" to "propagandist" that would consider Kim Jong Un's "life story" a valid side. It is worse than silence.

I do kind of understand the source of the problem, though: as a reporter gets famous his/her salary goes up. The same with a news organization. As a side-effect of success these people move into a new tax bracket and then it is in their interest to vote for money-managers, hang out with the other Neauveau Riche, and it takes a special person (like The Hartmanns) to maintain objectivity and even be honest about policies that may harm thousands even if the policy benefits him and his new friends. Or the office falls into a need for high-end friends and loses interest in stories that irritates the new circle. It's not right, but it is understandable. It's as expected, but still nauseating, that a highly successful newspaper like the St. Pete Times, parent of Politifact, would be afraid to be labelled "liberal". It is a painful irony in light of the fact that their only competition, The Tampa Tribune, is seen as "conservative" (though both papers, at least the last time I saw the Trib, employ columnists from the center-left and center-right and otherwise have objective policies) and the Times is actually prospering while the Tribune is cutting back and raising prices...

I see this whole mess as part of a long term chess game or game theory exercize to crush the middle class. The current oligarch-wannabees, like Koch Industries, are still horrified about the THIRTIES. They view worker's "rebellion" as a horrid terrorist security breach. They view the failure of Herbert Bush (GHWBush) to get reelected in the same way they view the failure of the people to elect Barry Goldwater. Or the takedown of Joseph McCarthy. It is the misbehavior of unworthy and ungrateful children who do not understand what the one percent do for them. We are little better than housepets, or house-{insert N-word here}, who must be chastized and controlled for our own benefit. There is a wierd Neo-Calvinist twist to this, a philosophy that says that the rich are the elect because God placed their soul into a baby born to a rich (successful) family or aided them in succeeding (and the rest are poor because they are not elect and therefore don't matter/can't understand). This is also their thinking in the insane economic and ecological philosophies: when reality doesn't match their delusion it is the fault of the "corrupt, sinful world" and its residents. They expect a Rapture at any moment, so long term survival is moot.

This is, of course, delusional thinking of the most "dangerous to self and others" kind. Now we have the asylum run by the lunatics and their obsessive-compulsive greed, and their total lack of empathy. Every time I hear about "austerity" I think we must get these poor and suffering souls into hospitals and treat their illnesses before their behaviors finish rendering the earth inimical to our kind of life.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 12 years 26 weeks ago

Your child may be a Communist (terrorist)!

angus7572's picture
angus7572 12 years 26 weeks ago

The payroll taxes are what "feed" the Social Security Trust fund. Does anyone not understand that this "crusade" by Obama (the so called socialist) is going to DESTROY Social Security if it IS passed? Is everyone just nuts, or are there people that realize this??? Obama is a deceiving maggot, a Wall Street stooge worse than ANY OTHER PRESIDENT BEFORE HIM. He is WORSE than Bush. Wake up people!!!!!

DJ Pullstart 12 years 26 weeks ago

Is there a new version of "Christmas Carol" ? Dickens would love this material.

miriamhamsa's picture
miriamhamsa 12 years 26 weeks ago

I don't get it. This is one of Obama's republican moves, where he sneakily defunds social security. And now, instead of framing it as reverting to the normal payroll tax rate, it is being characterized by Thom, Randy Rhodes and others, as a tax increase, and shame on the republicans???? What gives??? I really don't get it. It was not a healthy tax break. It was the worst kind. Why are you in favor of it Thom? People don't understand, clearly, that the payroll tax is another name for their social security contributions. Why aren't you pushing to have the limits raised, which would increase the funds going into social security, and give a little more equity to the taxation rates for the population as a whole????

angus7572's picture
angus7572 12 years 26 weeks ago

Absolutley right-this is THE attack on Social Security and it seems noone on the left really knows that. It is just the same left-right fight nonsense.

historywriter's picture
historywriter 12 years 26 weeks ago

I don't believe that. I believe that this is temporary and that the payroll tax will be instituted later on when the economy improves a bit. This is one that should be relatively easy to re-fund. Just lift the $108,000 lifetime "lid" on contributions. Don't know why it was put there in the first place.I do not think Democrats (in the White House or in Congress) would allow this.

And I am really offended by your comments. If you have a point, you can make it without calling the president a maggot and a Wall street stooge. No president is worse than W. He holds the country's lifetime booby prize for starting 2 unnecessary wars without figuring out how to fund them. He wasn't even president: Cheney was.

If you have real arguments and real evidence, let's hear them.

historywriter's picture
historywriter 12 years 26 weeks ago

President Obama just imposed limits on mercury pollution. Why would he destroy Social Security?

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 12 years 26 weeks ago

First off the 2% cut was a joke to begin with! if they really wanted to help us workin stiffs out they would have reduced our federal withholding and not messed with the only shred of income i may have when I'm what 80? by time i get whats mine they will have raised the retirement age to a hundred so I may infact just die at my desk tryin to keep mac and chees in my belly.

I'm not saying its a bad thing, just a stupid thing. Our erudite elected slabs of fat back seem stupider then some of the kids coming out of our now shriveling up education system!

and as usual people want to put all the blame on obamanuts when in fact it is the fault of all of them. a whole lot of pissin in the wind and ain't nobody winnin'. Its the very same as the day i wrote the song 17 years ago, pigs pissin in the wind.

But how will it change? only the sand of time will tell. that is if we take time to learn from the foot fall left behind before the wind blows it away!

Geraldine Rieman 12 years 26 weeks ago

Here is one link. There are many on Google SEARCH.

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 12 years 26 weeks ago

they bumped the wage base by the way for social security. I'm sure in an effort to offset what did not get paid in in 2011. it would be a whole lot better if they raised the wage base to 200k. talk about raking in some $$$ and building a bigger fund! Cha Ching. and by the way, if i, as a single wage earner was fortunate enought to make 200k i am hard press to beleive i'd miss the $8400 if i knew it was part that which keeps us socially sound and united as a nation. I see some of the down trodon askin for $$ at 7-11....makes me sad. don't remember seeing so many homeless when i was a younger bloke and made it a point to see everything with young eyes....

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 12 years 26 weeks ago

Thom, I don't think Zombies can blink.... but I do think you're absolutely correct....the media in general has failed to report the critical facts related to the tax cut extension.....the poison pills. I share your outrage.Thanks for trumpeting the TRUTH!

U.S. Citizen's picture
U.S. Citizen 12 years 26 weeks ago

Agree. The media and the politicians keep talking about a tax increase. This is a reinstatement of a temporary reduction of the payroll tax. The idea of a payroll tax reduction is a Republican idea. Obama started by putting it on steroids with his further reduction and expansion to employers. This is just a continuation of the attempt to weaken SS like the tax-reduction induced national debt is a way to weaken government and present an excuse to reduce or end social programs.

I did hear that the trust fund is supposed to be reimbursed but I'm pretty skeptical of that happening. Instead of taking money out of the trust fund, we should be putting money in to fund the projected shortfall. Pesonally, I think that due to high unemployment and reduced wages, the projections will be off and the shortfall will appear sooner.

A better way of giving money to those in need is with the Make Work Pay Credit that was used previously.

U.S. Citizen's picture
U.S. Citizen 12 years 26 weeks ago

I'm not really interested to a great degree in politics and personalities; I'm more interested in the issues which we hear very little in-depth analysis about on the corporate media. However, in this particular situation, this bad idea will pass. Both parties want it; it's a back-handed attempt to weaken SS. It will become entrenched and is the beginning of the end of SS. This is another Republican policy adopted by Obama that some Repubs are opposing. The only question is how much more corporate-friendly provisions will be included.

We should be funding the projected shortfall instead of taking money out of the trust fund. I think the current projections will be less than expected because of high unemployment and reduced wages. If we want to give money to those in need, use the Make Work Pay Credit.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 12 years 26 weeks ago

Speaking of truth in reporting, in my world...which is quite average.... the biggest truth of 2011 was the republican freaks in the house of Norquist voting to end the most popular "We the People" program that's on record.....which is why they are avoiding the vote on a tax increase on the working will be on record! Thanks for nothing tea baggers!

Clarissa Smith's picture
Clarissa Smith 12 years 26 weeks ago

Thanks for making us witnesses of the GOP switching off the house mic, while a Democrat was like, "We can't leave old people without medicare! ect. ..."

Who will blink? If the Democats cave in, because they can't take old people running out of food and medicare, I cannot blame them. In this system the mean and selfish seem to have an advatage -- pretty often at least.

Now I'm gonna watch the American people. How many of 'em got what happened? How many are sleeping? How many keep all this in their memory? If the GOP will tell us next summer and fall, the Democrats took food and medicare away from old people: how many Americans will eat that crap?"

Is America a spiritually, intelectually 3rd-worldly country? Are we a bunch of stupid hicks, easily to betray? It'll show in November... Well, if we really should be that way, we will really go to the 3rd world on the long run. We decide in our own heads where we belong and move....

Frankly, I don't think Americans are THAT ignorant. We really MUST get the house back in November.

Another turn isn't enough----period.

DancingBear's picture
DancingBear 12 years 26 weeks ago

So the Republicans in congress now want to drug test unemployed workers before letting them have the UEI benefits they paid into when they still had jobs. Presumably the reason for drug testing the unemployed is because too many potential workers are getting high and dropping out of the job market, thus causing an epidemic of vacant positions left unfilled in the labor market... Buzz! What's wrong with this picture? Oh I know, the last time I checked (earlier this morning) the central problem that's been plaguing our economy for the past several years is not a shortage of workers, but a shortage of jobs for them to do. Viewed in the light of this in-your-face undeniable fact, it is obvious that it's the "job creators" in the top 1%, not the job seeking members of the 99%, who are shirking their responsibilities and letting the economy fail by not creating enough jobs for all those who want one. So if the question is who need to be drug tested because they are clearly screwing up and causing the nation's economy to fail, the answer is obvious: drug test the bankers, drug test the CEOs, drug test casino capitalist big investors, and while we are at it, drug test those Republican politicians who think the problem is ordinary working Americans.


historywriter's picture
historywriter 12 years 26 weeks ago

There are a lot of pessimistic replies to this article. The SS trust fund will not run out of money until about 2037. Between now and then we can easily replace the money up used here by raising the lifetime contribution from about $108,000 to even $120,000 or 150,000 without too much pain. Especially at the top.

I think if we survive this conservative onslaught, there will come a turning point in our culture and our politics. If we stay stuck in this deadlock, mostly caused by the republican NOs, we will go down and nothing will save us, and we are on the march to a corporatocracy, and, beyond that, a truly failed society.

Even then, we need not despair. Look at all the people turning out in other countries. I am heartened by the thousands of women coming out in Egypt to protest the treatment of women by police. The Arab uprisings and the Russian ones as well give me optimism we can do the. After all, we have experienced democracy (mostly) and I think there will be a huge uproar and clamor, eventually, to regain it. The Occupy movement is a beginning.

michaelb44's picture
michaelb44 12 years 26 weeks ago

Thom, your blog may have hit the bullseye when you stated that congress has a approval rating of 11%. It's congress, not congressional republicans with the low ratings. This means democrates are getting the blame along with the tea party, who is at fault. Do you think Americans are smart enough to know the difference? Three months ago I would have said no, but the occupy movement is giving me some hope.

Clarissa Smith's picture
Clarissa Smith 12 years 26 weeks ago

Get this Thom and you know how important your work is: There's a blog where I regularly am commentator, because the blog owner inspires me.

Blog owner: "On this short day I have a short fuse. I am so disgusted with the Republicans now, I want to scream. They are playing games with people's lives and they just don't give a damn. Damn, they make me sick. ..."

My answer: "It's terrible, the tea party wing is destroying the GOP! Thom Hartmann said this for months and I didn't take it too seriously. But he's right. The teabaggers are a pest in a menace!

Hey, if you have time and you're too desperate: listen to Thom Hartmann. We couldn't survive without him, he's really helping us to understand what happens. Yesterday a pretty old Republican called in -- over 70 years old. He was one of those good old Eisenhower Republicans and he was very desperate too. Thom Hartmann than began to talk about President Eisenhower and played one of his speeches: It basically was about, it's better to fed people than pay for weapons. .... Without Thom we surely would hate the GOP too much. It obviously isn't that easy.

The old GOPler finally thanked and said he admired Thom a lot. It was heartrending."

ggluck's picture
ggluck 12 years 26 weeks ago

Last Thursday (12/15) Thom indicated that he did not care to have non-lawyers in Congress, citing, for example, that the physician, Ron Paul is less than an ideal legislator. At what point is a physician, who practiced for about 15 years before entering politics in 1976 primarily a politician?

Didn't the founders of our Republic intend for legislators to be citizen representatives, rather than life-long politicians. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, fewer than half (25) were lawyers and 7 of those 25 had other occupations (scientist, musician, surveyor, ...).

Many of our existing Congress(wo)men are only too happy to enjoy the perks (both deserved and not) of office, but are not willing to exercise their Constitutional responsibilities (like declaring war, or not). Perhaps it's time to hit the "reset" button, reboot, and fill Congressional seats with citizens more representative of our voting population!

Cody.A's picture
Cody.A 12 years 25 weeks ago

Maybe it would be a good idea to just give the senate what it wants so that everyone can look forward to more doom and gloom predictions in January. Two months really is just kicking the can down the road. Both parties need to get it together.

  • There is always an upcoming republican to blame no matter what the situation is and the dems like to hold the American people hostage when they can.

Badams's picture
Badams 12 years 25 weeks ago

Every dollar counts. This is the funding for the so called Medicare trust fund, that we all suspect does not even exist. It is Obama playing politics. That is all it is. He does not care about the working class. He is more concerned with raising his billion for reelection. Why doesn't anyone talk about that on here?

Clarissa Smith's picture
Clarissa Smith 12 years 23 weeks ago
Quote Badams:Every dollar counts.

Reminds me of uncle Scrooge again. Now you've found another trick: You just say the Medicare fund doesn't exist ... which your teabagging buddies wanna do away with. This is an uncle Scrooge attitude indeed: not being ready to give a single lousy buck and rather let others die. Stingy!

Do you also have your daily money swim, Badams?

Clarissa Smith's picture
Clarissa Smith 12 years 23 weeks ago
Quote angus7572:The payroll taxes are what "feed" the Social Security Trust fund. Does anyone not understand that this "crusade" by Obama (the so called socialist) is going to DESTROY Social Security if it IS passed? Is everyone just nuts, or are there people that realize this??? Obama is a deceiving maggot, a Wall Street stooge worse than ANY OTHER PRESIDENT BEFORE HIM. He is WORSE than Bush. Wake up people!!!!!

Are you really a left-wing Obama critic? Your stuff is so senseless destructive, to my ears you sound like a tea party troll. Or you must be extremely confused..... sort of gridlock depression. If so, sorry; I don't wanna be too tough on you -- don't know what you went through. Well, either you are extremely mean, or extremely pitiable. Or do you feel big if ya can destroy something bigger.... like America?

Whatever, this goes for your logic as well:

You hate the Democrats because they’re only humans, instead of angels. So you think we might deal with the Republican devil as well. You practically say, “Eat me tiger, so the bees can’t sting me anymore!”

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From Cracking the Code:
"No one communicates more thoughtfully or effectively on the radio airwaves than Thom Hartmann. He gets inside the arguments and helps people to think them through—to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann channels the best of the American Founders with voice and pen. His deep attachment to a democratic civil society is just the medicine America needs."
Tom Hayden, author of The Long Sixties and director, Peace and Justice Resource Center.
From Screwed:
"Thom Hartmann’s book explains in simple language and with concrete research the details of the Neo-con’s war against the American middle class. It proves what many have intuited and serves to remind us that without a healthy, employed, and vital middle class, America is no more than the richest Third World country on the planet."
Peter Coyote, Actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall