From Volume 38, Issue 11 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 18, 2011

United States News Digest

Fascist Dems and Republicans Join Forces To Kill Americans

March 13 (EIRNS)—On Fox News Sunday this morning, Senators from both sides of the aisle—Republicans Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), and Democrat Mark Warner (Va.)—showed how eager they are to kill their constituents, by slashing the entitlements which often make the difference between life and death.

Minority Leader McConnell stated outright that no Republican Senator will vote to raise the debt ceiling—the debt limit will be reached in April or May—unless "something important" is offered, "related to spending and debt." Where to start? McConnell argued, "What about the $50 trillion in commitments we have made that we cannot keep on entitlement programs—very popular programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?"

You want the debt ceiling raised? The Minority Leader threatened that that won't happen, unless it includes "something with it that the markets, foreign countries, the American people believe is a credible effort to begin to get a handle on spending and debt."

Warner and Chambliss then chimed in to boast of their bipartisan alliance, to ensure that the proposals of the Catfood Commission (Simpson-Bowles Commission, the White House cut-the-deficit commission) don't go "for naught," as Warner put it. Asked about his willingness, as a Democrat, to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, Warner argued that, rather than just cut domestic discretionary spending, "you've got to put everything out there," and stop punting. "We've been borrowing from Social Security to finance the government." That has to stop, he asserted.

Warner said that "if you look at the debt commission report, you have to address spending. We have to reduce spending in a major way.... We've got to reform entitlements in a major way...."

This fascist approach goes against the results of a Bloomberg poll conducted on March 4-7. While almost 80% of the respondents agreed that Republicans and Democrats should reach a compromise on reducing Federal spending, they opposed the means proposed to do this, including: cuts to Medicare; cuts to public education, environmental protection, medical research; cuts to community services and renewal programs. The "few things" the poll's majorities supported were: pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq this year; repealing the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year; and cutting foreign aid. An NBC News report noted that "The results of the March 4-7 poll underscore the hazards confronting Republicans, as well as President Barack Obama and Democrats."

Michigan Moves Closer to Financial Dictatorship

March 11 (EIRNS)—Michigan's Gov. Rick Snyder, a right-wing Republican like his colleague Scott Walker in Wisconsin, has stated repeatedly that he's not interested in taking down the trade unions in his state. Yet, on March 9, the State Senate passed a bill that will give him enormous power to do just that. Under the bill, emergency financial managers appointed by the governor to run the finances of any municipality or school district where the governor has declared a financial emergency, would have the power to terminate union contracts for teachers and other public employees, and could even strip local elected officials of practically all of their authority.

The bill, which had drawn thousands of protestors to Lansing on March 8, passed the Senate by a party-line vote of 26 to 12. During the debate, the Republican majority rejected all Democratic amendments to rein in the power of the emergency financial managers. According to the website, under the bill, which the House will take up next week, an emergency financial manager would even have the power to sell off assets, cut or eliminate services, void all contracts, and even dissolve a school district or municipality, if that was necessary to meet the financial criteria of the bill. "It takes every decision in a city or school district and puts it in the hands of the manager, from when the streets get plowed to who plows them and how much they are paid," said Michigan AFL-CIO president Mark Gaffney. "In schools, the manager would decide academics or if you have athletics."

U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D), whose hometown of Detroit's school district has been under an emergency financial manager for the past two years, issued a strong statement against the bill, highlighting the fact that it does nothing to address the underlying causes of the economic crisis. "The takeover provision of the legislation—allowing the dissolution of locally elected bodies—implicitly targets minority communities that are disproportionately impacted by the economic downturn, without providing meaningful support for improved economic opportunity," he said.

But even worse is that the bill may be unconstitutional. Conyers noted that under Article I, Section 10, states are expressly prohibited from impairing any contract. Finally, "the bill empowers this financial czar with the Governor's approval to force a municipality into bankruptcy, a power that will surely be used to extract further concessions from hardworking public sector workers. And, by making the risk of bankruptcy a reality, the bill will make it more, not less, expensive for municipalities to obtain financing given this risk, which will make the financial circumstances of municipalities even worse."

Obama Silences NLRB Opposition to Anti-Labor Offensive

March 9 (EIRNS)—When House Republicans targeted the budget of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last month, members of the agency countered, posting a warning on the NLRB website that the Republican cuts would force it to largely cease operations for an extended period of time, creating a backlog of thousands of cases. The Obama White House immediately demanded that the NLRB remove the statement from its website, an NLRB spokesperson told The Huffington Post. The link to the statement, issued Feb. 18, is still available on the website, under the heading: "Top NLRB officials respond to House budget proposal." But rather than finding that statement, you will find a new statement, dated Feb. 22, which says: "The content in this statement has been removed. For further information on this subject, please see the President's Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) regarding the budget, which can be found on the OMB website." Obama's Office of Management and Budget told the NLRB to take down the statement, according to the NLRB spokesperson.

Arizonans Protest 'Death Warrants' for Those Denied Transplants

March 7 (EIRNS)—Some of the 98 people in Arizona convicted of the capital crime of Needing an Organ Transplant while Poor and Uninsured held silent demonstrations in Tucson and Phoenix last Saturday, along with many of their supporters. Two of their number have already been executed.

Reporting on their plight is couched in pragmatic considerations of critical choices. As Reuters put it, the 98 are "people denied state Medicaid funding for potentially life-saving transplants and at the forefront of a harrowing battle over the state's public finances. The measure enacted last October by [Gov. Jan] Brewer trimmed spending on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program, to help close a projected 2012 budget deficit of $1.15 billion. It eliminated coverage for transplants including lung, heart, liver, and bone marrow after weighing the success and survival rates for certain transplant procedures. Two patients on the Medicaid waiting list have since died, although it is unclear if transplants would have saved them.

"The Republican governor singled out the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, as the Medicaid program is called in the desert state, as the greatest drain on state coffers. 'At the deficit's core is the explosive growth in Medicaid spending which, over the last four years, has soared by almost 65% and now consumes 29% of our state budget,' she said. 'If we are to regain control of state spending, we must reform Medicaid and free Arizona from the fiscal manipulation of the federal government,' Brewer said."

In other locations, Brewer has contended that transplant patients live, on average, only a year after their transplants. Hardly a cost-effective expenditure.

Douglas Gravagna, one of those in need of a transplant to stay alive, has a different assessment: "She's signing death warrants—that's what she's doing. This is death for me."

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