From Volume 38, Issue 7 of EIR Online, Published Feb. 18, 2011

United States News Digest

Obama Celebrates Valentine's Day—with Bloody Cuts

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—President Obama's Valentine's Day gift to the nation will be more in the tradition of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, than the celebration of agapic love, according to leaks from senior Administration officials. Obama will release his 2012 Budget Plan Feb. 14, which plan will allegedly contain the following murderous cuts:

* A 50% cut in home energy assistance to low-income families.

* Nearly $1 billion in cuts in grants for water treatment plants.

* A more than $1 billion cut in grants to airports—thus crippling further the hobbled air transport system.

* Additional cuts in the already crippled public health system, and forestry programs.

Further reductions in Medicare and Medicaid payments to hospitals and doctors are also called for, allegedly to "pay for" two years of protection of doctors from MedPac's recommended cuts.

While some are applauding Obama's willingness to carry out unpopular cuts, the fascist deficit hawks are sharpening their claws for further action. According to the Washington Post, the Senate grouping led by Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) is meeting with four members of the defunct Catfood Commission, to try to come up with legislation in line with that body's recommendations. Allegedly, this Senate discussion group has grown to over 31 members.

Wisc. Governor Declares War on State Employee Unions

Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker one-upped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, this week, when he announced his plans to eviscerate the rights of state employees, in order to "balance" the state's budget. While Christie went to war against the teachers union soon after he became governor last year, and is threatening to expand that war to other public sector unions, he, so far as is known, has not threatened to call out the National Guard should they protest too much. That's exactly what Walker did this week when he announced legislation to roll back collective bargaining rights and cut benefits of state employees.

Walker refuses to negotiate with the unions and instead has opted to smash them right away, claiming he just wants to balance the state budget and needs to bring the public sector's wages and benefits in line with levels in the private sector in order to do that. Walker, following the usual script, said that otherwise, the only alternative is massive layoffs of state workers.

Not surprisingly, Walker's proposal, which he is expected to be able to ram through the Republican-controlled state legislature, is causing an uproar. "What the governor has essentially said is that he will impose this on all public employees without having to have a conversation about it," Joel Sipress, member of the University of Wisconsin Union Bargaining team, told WDIO-TV in Duluth.

State Sen. Fred Wisser (D) didn't mince words in describing Walker's approach: "State employees have the right to negotiate in good faith with the state. Without a willingness to even discuss what concessions need to be made with state employees, the governor comes across more like a dictator and less like a leader. The governor's budget adjustment bill attempts to wipe away over 50 years of collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin. This decree will affect every hard-working public employee in the state—every librarian, teacher, street department worker and public safety worker. These are our friends and neighbors; they are the people who make our communities function."

The Milwaukee Sentinel reported that on the day he dropped the National Guard bombshell, Gov. Walker had four Capital police officers stationed outside his press conference, checking on everyone who was attending.

Indiana Gov Wants Markets To Impose Health-Care Rationing

Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—Politico reports that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, in Washington yesterday for the Conservative Political Action Committee conference, told reporters that "there will never be enough money" to give everybody all the health care they need. We all want to live forever, we want everything done for us to live forever," Daniels told a small group of health reporters. "We cannot afford, no one can, to do absolutely everything that modern technology makes possible to absolutely the very last day of the very last resort."

While Daniels reportedly never used the word "rationing," the only thing that appears to set him apart from Sir Donald Berwick, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who, Politico notes, has been excoriated by Republicans for promoting rationing, is that Daniels wants it done by the free market, with a "patient centered" approach, where patients and their families are brainwashed into foregoing lifesaving medical care because it's just too expensive.

Obama and House GOP Leadership Rebuffed on Patriot Act

Feb. 8 (EIRNS)—In what some are calling the action of a "political odd couple," 26 Republican House members, including 8 freshmen, joined 122 Democrats in blocking a fast-track procedure to reauthorize the Bush-Cheney Patriot Act. The House rejected legislation to extend for nine months, three key elements of the Patriot Act: roving wiretaps, FBI access to business records (including medical and personal information), and surveillance of non-U.S. "lone wolf" terrorist suspects. The provisions will expire on Feb. 28 without House and Senate actions.

The fast-track procedure requires a two-thirds vote, and it failed on a 277-148 vote—even though the leadership violated their own rules by keeping the vote open longer than the 15-minute limit.

A spokesman for House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) noted that "Democrats in Congress voted to deny their own Administration's request" for the Patriot Act extension.

Conservative Activists Boo Cheney, Choose Paul

Feb. 13 (EIRNS)—For all the millions that C. Boyden Gray, Dick Armey, and other Wall Street shills have spent on trying to control the conservative movement in the U.S., they don't seem to have much to show for their efforts.

In the straw poll taken at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend, anti-Federal Reserve activist (and opponent of British-style wars) Ron Paul won the presidential straw poll for the second year in a row, with over 3,700 activists voting. Paul got 30% of the votes, to Mitt Romney's 23%; all other would-be GOP contenders, such as Chris Christie, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich, were in the single digits.

What makes this particularly interesting, is that Ron Paul supporters organized a noisy disruption when Dick Cheney appeared on stage with Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday, shouting "war criminal," "draft dodger," and "Where's bin Laden?" and leading a walkout from the session.

Young Americans for Freedom then kicked Ron Paul off its national advisory board after Paul's straw-poll victory—accusing him of being "more out of touch with America's needs for national security than our current socialist presidential regime." To which a Ron Paul spokesman responded in an email to Politico: "I hadn't heard of YAF doing anything for years. I thought they were defunct."

Meanwhile, once Rumsfeld and Cheney were finally allowed to speak Feb. 10, Rumsfeld at least landed one punch. Noting the Obama Administration's "reversals of their announced policies on national security issues— Guantanamo Bay, military commissions, indefinite detentions, CIA drone strikes," Rummy commented that "it makes me wonder if Dick has had more influence on President Obama than the people who got him elected."

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