From Volume 7, Issue 20 of EIR Online, Published May 13, 2008

United States News Digest

Sheila Jackson Lee: Was It Something She Said?

May 8 (EIRNS)—Yesterday, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, the mere suggestion by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) that the country is headed for a depression, triggered a fit of academic rug-chewing by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.), who insisted that government statistics haven't yet hit the Economics 101 definition of a recession. Jackson Lee stuck to her guns, standing with those losing their homes, rather than arguing the definition of arbitrary terms.

After summarizing several points of the economic crisis (20,000 jobs lost in April, corporate bailouts and mergers), Jackson Lee remarked, "We're not in a recession; we're moving towards a 1929 depression."

Even this gentle expression of the Congresswoman's opinion was too much for Sessions, who responded: "Madam Speaker, my good friends on the other side need to bone up on their language, I believe. A recession is confirmed when there are two quarters where the economy is down. We have not even reached that point yet, and yet already we find out on the floor that the Democrat Party is willing to say we're in a complete crash equal to 1929. My gosh. Let's at least tell the American people the truth."

"Are you calling me a liar?" Jackson Lee asked repeatedly. Sessions repeated his statistical formulation and said her statement was untrue. After a minute or so of these exchanges, the Speaker pro tem ordered the two Texans back to their corners.

Jackson Lee later briefly made a statement of clarification, that her colleague had not called her a liar, and added: "It is important to note that America is suffering. Between 7,000 and 8,000 people a day are filing for foreclosures and that consumer confidence is down. We are moving toward a recession and maybe a depression."

Capital Budget for Infrastructure Gets a Hearing

May 8 (EIRNS)—Nearly three years after Lyndon LaRouche called for a Federal capital budget to pay for building the trillions of dollars of critically needed infrastructure, members of Congress today held a hearing on the subject. The venue was a first-ever joint hearing of the House committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Budget. The lines were quickly drawn between adopting a capital budget or "alternative" (i.e., privatization without the word), in the opening statements of Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee.

Oberstar, quoting figures from a 1984 committee report he had worked on, citing the need then for huge infrastructure investment, came to the conclusion that only a capital budget could work. Now the need is greater, and so, "I plead for a capital budget."

Ryan provocatively attacked increasing the gas tax, pork-barrel ("earmark") spending, and demanded reform of entitlement programs (e.g., cut Medicare and Medicaid), without which, he said, there will be no funds for infrastructure. So "alternative funding" must be considered.

Oberstar also reported that he had just returned from Europe, where he participated in the EU Council of Transport Ministers meeting in Slovenia, where the ministers presented the Trans-European Networks for Transport (TEN-T) plan, which calls for spending $350 billion over ten years on rail, road, canals, and waterways to link the Atlantic to the Black Sea. Promotion in the U.S. Congress of the TEN-T should make Prince Philip's Worldwide Fund for Nature most unhappy, as the antediluvian mudcrawlers of the WWF have designated the TEN-T as "the most important navigation threat" to the Danube River, which they vow to stop.

It's LaRouche vs. Barney Frank Over Foreclosures

May 6 (EIRNS)—In Louisville, Kentucky, Lyndon LaRouche's proposed Homeowners and Bank Protection Act (HBPA) came up for testimony yesterday in the City council. One councilman had an alternative proposal: the incompetent bill submitted to Congress by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), The American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act (H.R. 3221). Five LaRouche PAC supporters were denied a chance to testify, as the debate on the two competing resolutions was delayed for two weeks. In Michigan, on the other hand, support for the HBPA is spreading. The city of Oak Park passed a version of the HBPA, without LPAC's directly organizing for it. The resolution had been passed almost a month ago, and LPAC was only notified recently. In New Haven, Connecticut, the HBPA has been introduced, and is awaiting for committee assignment.

The Real 'Immigration' Issue in the 2008 Elections

May 4 (EIRNS)—Lyndon LaRouche stated during his recent visit to Monterrey, Mexico, that the United States must return to an FDR-style "Good Neighbor" policy with Mexico, such as helping with the completion of the PLHINO great water project in the country's northwest. With millions of Mexican immigrants facing deportation from the U.S., and with no jobs awaiting them at home, it is in the vital interest of the United States to help create productive jobs for them, with viable projects such as the PLHINO water project. The PLHINO project is violently resisted by the British Empire's agents, such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Mexican-Americans in the U.S., especially in California and Texas, are a central component of the electorate, and one of the essential constituencies of the Democratic Party. Projects such as the PLHINO and the related North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA) proposal, speak to their immediate interests, and those of their family members on both sides of the border.

A March 2008 study by the Pew Hispanic Center on "The Hispanic Vote in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primaries" sheds light on these demographic and voting patterns, which LaRouche PAC is now researching. In California's 2004 Democratic primary, Hispanic voters made up 16% of the total vote, a little more than their 14.3% share of the national population. But in the 2008 Democratic primary, Hispanics were 30% of the total turnout in California—a near doubling, due largely to Hillary Clinton's successful get-out-the-vote drive. Clinton beat Obama 63% to 35% among Hispanic voters in the California primary, a pattern which held across all age, gender, and income groups. Texas was similar: In the 2004 Democratic primary, Hispanics made up 24% of the votes; in 2008, that percentage rose to 32%. And in Texas, Clinton defeated Obama among Hispanics by 66% to 32%.

As for the issues driving the Hispanic vote, 53% of all Hispanic voters in the Super-Tuesday primaries in February, said the economy was the #1 issue—even more than the 45% among non-Hispanic voters who said economics was "numero uno."

Will a Bipartisan Push in Congress Save NASA's Manpower?

May 4 (EIRNS)—NASA is facing a decimation of its workforce, which is the human capital that is required for any semblance of a Moon/Mars mission. This, thanks to the policy of the Bush Administration, to retire the Space Shuttle fleet in 2010, without providing enough funding to fly its replacement until five years after that. The five-year hiatus in manned space flight has been attacked by Congress, and by NASA administrator Mike Griffin.

The human infrastructure in the manned space program, concentrated at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the Johnson Space Center in Texas, is under threat. In early April, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Flight told Congress that more than 8,000 contractor jobs in the space program could be lost. The Kennedy Space Center could be facing cuts of 80%. The Michoud Assembly plant in New Orleans, which built stages of the Saturn V Moon rocket, the fuel tank for the Shuttle, and will build stages for a new launch vehicle, could lose as many as 1,300 of its 1,900 jobs.

Last year, Congressional supporters led a failed attempt to increase NASA's FY08 budget, to shorten the five-year gap between the end of the Shuttle and the start of the Orion spacecraft. On April 29, a bipartisan group of 30 Members of Congress sent a letter to House leaders, urging at least a $1 billion increase in NASA's FY09 budget. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), on the Appropriations Committee, is pushing for the increase, with colleague Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

As the 1960s Apollo program wound down, to be replaced by the counterculture and Malthusian pessimism, the impact on NASA's scientific leadership and highly skilled workforce was dramatic. Tens of thousands lost their jobs. Rates of divorce, suicide, and alcoholism in communities near the Kennedy Space Center shot up, as whole towns were abandoned. Mike Griffin has warned that without adequate support for the next steps in space exploration, the most priceless resource in the space program, its people, will be lost.

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