From Volume 37, Issue 11 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 19, 2010

United States News Digest

Obama Undercuts Corps of Engineers as Floods Hit U.S. Hard

March 13 (EIRNS)—Localized flooding is now hitting all across the United States, from the combined effects of the heavy snowpack melting down, at the same time as heavy Spring rains. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency mandated to see to flood control across the country, is now working overtime to try to minimize damage, despite depleted staff and resources; and aged flood defense structures.

In the face of all this, the Obama Administration is calling for a scale-back in Army Corps activity, through a 10% cut in the ACE's budget for 2011, and for a "change in culture" of the Corps, to force it to relax its insistence on engineering safety standards for levees and the like. The latest explicit statement of the Obama Administration's intent, came from Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), at the March 11 Dallas City Council meeting.

Sims was in attendance, because the Council is planning a Trinity River real estate project (parks, toll road, etc.), which is thwarted because the pre-existing local levees were rated last year as deficient by the Army Corps of Engineers. Sims, according to the Dallas Morning News coverage of the meeting, "told Council members and backers of the Trinity River project [for riverside amenities] that he plans to add Dallas to a list of communities he keeps that have differences with the Corps...." Sims further said, that the Obama Administration "is trying to help the agency 'work through the culture of change they need,'" on things like this.

A flurry of blog protests ensued, such as that of that of the Dallas Observer (March 12), headlined, "What in the Wide World of Sports Does a HUD Secretary Know About Levee Safety?" However, the question goes far deeper than the Trinity River Basin vulnerability to flood damage.

At present, many river basins are at or near flood levels across the U.S. Tomorrow, the Ohio River is expected to crest at two feet above official flood stage. On March 10, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravensthal declared his city in official state of emergency, in order to get in readiness. The Ohio begins in Pittsburgh, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, in turn, fed upstream by the Youghiogheny, which is flooding.

The same situation obtains in the Plains States, for example, in Iowa (whose name means, "land between two rivers"), bordered west and east by the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, whose tributaries are high and rising.

The Army Corps of Engineers District Offices, based on hydrographic regions, have been on full mobilization for weeks, preparing for the current disaster contingency, by draining reservoirs upstream, to hold back some of the snowmelt, stockpiling sandbags and hundreds of linear feet of movable flood wall, etc.

This is the physical production culture that the Obama Administration opposes, in order to carry out London's objectives to kill people.

House Members Oppose IMAC Plan in Senate Health Bill

March 13 (EIRNS)—Despite the political targetting of IMAC (Independent Medicare Advisory Council, aka, the "death panel") opponents Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), there is still strong opposition in the House of Representatives to the Nazi IMAC provisions that the Obama White House inserted into the Senate health bill.

In a message sent to supporters on March 11, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) attacks the "Super IMAC" and the "Value Index" provisions in the Senate bill, noting that these are not in the bill passed by the House last year. Capuano points out that the budget "reconciliation" procedure now being pushed is "complicated and dangerous," and that it may not be possible to "fix" some of the most worrisome issues, particularly IMAC, through reconciliation.

The House Ways and Means Committee—from which Rangel was just forced to step down as chairman—has been a center of opposition to the IMAC scheme. That this is still the case, is reported by a worried Washington Post today, with the Post taking note of the fact that Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), a senior committee member, has threatened to vote against the Senate bill unless Congress's control over Medicare hospital reimbursements is fully retained. What the Post doesn't report, is that last Summer, Neal spearheaded a letter opposing IMAC which garnered 75-80 House members' signatures at that time; in January, Neal reissued the letter with almost 100 signatures.

Regarding "Super IMAC," Capuano wrote: "I am concerned that if this appointed board adopts the cost-containment only approach, Massachusetts could lose billions of dollars per year. Such a loss would hurt our world-renowned medical schools, teaching hospitals, and research programs. Those losses would undermine the quality of care we provide to our own citizens and slow progress in biomedical sciences globally" (emphasis in original). He adds that this could result in the loss of thousands of jobs in Massachusetts alone.

"Finally, to add insult to injury, writes Capuano, "the elected representatives of the people impacted would no longer have a say in accepting, rejecting or amending any new approaches—the entire decision would be up to Presidential appointees."

Congress Wants 'Plan B' for Space Program

March 11 (EIRNS)—Instead of waging a fight to impeach Obama, as LaRouche Democrat Kesha Rogers is doing, for, among other things, the President's sabotage of the nation's space program, a bipartisan group of 15 members of the House, including Rogers' Republican opponent, Pete Olson (R-Tex.), has decided that NASA should come up with a "Plan B" for how to continue the program within the top-line budget proposed by the administration. In a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, the 15 are asking Bolden to assemble a team of experts, appointed by the directors of the Johnson, Marshall, and Kennedy Space Centers, "to review how exploration spacecraft and launch vehicle development and testing may be maintained within the proposed budget request to ensure uninterrupted, independent U.S. human space flight access to the International Space Station and beyond." The team is to report back to Congress and the administration within 30 days.

Seven Congressmen denounced the Obama Administration at a press conference this afternoon. Olson declared that the administration is "relinquishing our leadership" in space. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) lamented that we will be forced to depend on Russia to get to the space station, and will be forced to play catch-up with China, which is accelerating its manned program.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) noted rather vigorously that the same industrial base that supports manned spaceflight also supports national defense. The takedown of that industrial base which will be caused by the cancellation of Constellation, "means we'll be less able to defend ourselves." Rep. Gene Green (D-Tex.) noted that the manned space program has been an inspiration to school children since it was started by President Kennedy in the 1960s. He also pointed out that the Constellation program exists in authorizations passed by Congress in 2005 and 2008, and "you can't change authorization law by the budget."

However, none of the above Congressmen is in the real world. No Plan B will work. The only course of action that will work is to mobilize the population to impeach Obama, as is being done by Texas 22nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Kesha Rogers.

Rohatyn's Fascist Plan To 'Ravitch' New York

March 10 (EIRNS)—"Unveiled today," according to the admiring New York Daily News, "the Ravitch Plan" pushed by fascist banker Felix Rohatyn for New York State, would devastate what remains of the state's crashed economy, and make it as ungovernable as Arnie Schwarzenegger's California. Richard Ravitch, the author of Rohatyn's plan for the state, was Felix's deputy when he ran New York City as virtual dictator under Big MAC in the 1970s. Rohatyn demanded in a New York Times op-ed a week ago that his man Ravitch, who is now lieutenant governor, be made governor immediately. At that point, Rohatyn and Wall Street were convinced they had Gov. David Paterson on the ropes based on press-generated scandals, and ready to resign.

What a Governor Ravitch would do with his "Ravitch Plan" is to take Schwarzenegger's fascist path of destruction of California since 2002. Ravitch says, 1) the state must achieve "structural balance" in its budget within five years (i.e., no borrowing; he says $9.5 billion more in cuts to the devastated state budget must be made over that time); but meanwhile, 2) borrow $2 billion a year on Wall Street for the first three years, as Schwarzenegger did, at high interest rates which were ruinous for California; 3) create a financial review board that reviews the state's budgets and determines whether they are in balance, and if the board deems the budget out of balance, grants the governor [Ravitch] exclusive power to close the gaps without being bothered by the legislature or the state constitution; and 4) put covenants in the new state bonds which would stipulate an accelerated payback to the bondholders if the state's budget was found, by Ravitch's control board, to be unbalanced. The legislature would be rendered effectively powerless.

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