From Volume 38, Issue 18 of EIR Online, Published May 6, 2011

United States News Digest

Republicans get the Obamacare Treatment

April 29 (EIRNS)—Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and other Tea Party-linked Congressional Republicans, who took over the House last Fall, riding a tide of mass hatred toward Obama and his T-4 health-care bill, are now finding themselves the target of the same wave of anger.

Ryan, author of the fascist budget proposal recently adopted by the House, had 19 public events scheduled in his district for the Congressional recess—many in capacity-filled rooms throughout his district, reports USA Today. They started the week in libraries and senior centers, but by midweek, several had to be moved into high school gyms to accommodate larger crowds. In one case, latecomers were turned away. The budget and Medicare are the hot topics. Comparing this year's town halls to those opposing Obamacare in 2009, Ryan himself admits that "the size is as high, and the passion is as high."

At Greenfield, the town hall crowd responded with skeptical boos when Ryan said his proposed changes to Medicare would provide seniors with benefits similar to those of a member of Congress, and wouldn't affect those over age 55. "What about my son?" a woman shouted. "Oh, come on!" shouted another. Activist and labor groups have been organizing seniors to trail Ryan at his meetings. "They're speaking out against this insane plan," Sheila Cochran, secretary for the Milwaukee Labor Council. "I don't think Paul Ryan has a clue about the people he's affecting.... His plan could literally kill people."

In some other similar situations: U.S. Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) was peppered with angry questions and complaints about the Ryan plan at a town hall meeting in Omaha April 27, and several times, Terry he had to call for calm. One woman said she fears that the GOP plan is "going to throw our senior citizens out on the street." And in Exeter, N.H., freshman Tea Party Rep. Frank Guinta faced a crowd of more than 100 constituents who shouted, booed, and interrupted him in his town meeting, over his vote for Ryan's Medicare scheme.

Firefighters Turn on Obama

April 27 (EIRNS)—The firefighters, who have provided prominent leadership against the fascist austerity proposals emanating from certain Republican governors, have now turned away from President Obama. Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Firefighters, sent an e-mail to all union locals announcing that the IAFF political action committee will be devoting all of its resources to local fights against anti-union measures being pushed in numerous states across the country, meaning that the PAC will not be making any political donations to Federal candidates.

According to today's Politico, the Schaitberger e-mail says: "Our support comes with consequences for those who are working to kill this union and we will hold accountable those supposed friends who don't stand up for us." Speaking of the labor-busting legislation in various states, he said: "Where is the outrage? Where are our friends?"

The anger of the firefighters—along with others in the AFL-CIO—against Obama has been growing for some time. Especially insulting was the passage of the fiscal 2011 budget bill on April 14, where Obama and Senate leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) traded away provisions regarding firefighter grant programs to the House Republicans, in the process of making their dirty deal with the House GOP on the bill.

As a result of this sellout, the firefighters are well on their way to a total, and open, break with Obama. A senior labor leader reported that Schaitberger will insist that the AFL-CIO withhold its endorsement of a sitting Democratic president for the first time.

Obama Shuffles Deck Chairs on His Sinking Ship of State

April 27 (EIRNS)—President Obama has announced a major shake-up in his national security team, and Lyndon LaRouche has already warned that the new combination is inherently unworkable. For the first 2 1/2 years of the Obama Presidency, a core group of seasoned national security and foreign policy professionals have worked together to avert the worst disasters. At the heart of this team have been Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That core grouping was bolstered by National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones, until his sudden resignation last October. And Vice President Joe Biden has been a closely allied supporter of this core team.

Today President Obama formally announced Secretary Gates's departure on June 30. He will be replaced by CIA director Leon Panetta. Panetta will be replaced by Gen. David Petraeus, the current commander of ISAF and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Petraeus's replacement will be Gen. John Allen. And the current U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Gen. John Eikenberry, will be replaced by Ryan Crocker, a recently retired foreign service officer who has been ambassador to both Baghdad and Kabul during his long career.

While a senior White House official said that Secretary of State Clinton was consulted on the personnel changes, sources close to the Secretary say that she is very upset at Gates' departure, and that she does not have a close working relationship with either Panetta or Petraeus. LaRouche commented that the combination put together by President Obama is inherently "unworkable."

Homelessness on the Rise in Obama's America

April 25 (EIRNS)—Full results are still not available, but the preliminary indications, from last January's nationwide "point-in-time" count of the homeless, are that homelessness increased significantly in 2010. In an April 22 release, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) admitted to a 1% rise over 2009, to nearly 650,000 individuals, but when the numbers are broken down, and some local results considered, the increase is much more dramatic.

On April 13, the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments reported that the annual January homeless count found a decrease of 3% in the number of homeless single adults over last year's count, but an increase of 9.5% in the number of homeless in families. Fully 61% of the members of homeless families are children. The report also found that 38% of homeless adults in families and 20% of homeless individuals are employed. Overall, the count found 11,988 homeless people in the Metropolitan Washington, D.C., including the Maryland and Northern Virginia suburbs.

In Broward County, Fla., the January count found nearly 600 more homeless people in 2011 than two years ago, an increase of 18%. One shelter operator in Hollywood told the April 24 Florida Sun-Sentinel that his shelter of about 300 beds is completely full. "We got a couple families this week," he said. "Things are bad."

In Wichita, Kan., the January count found more then 600 homeless living in the city, a whopping 65% increase from 2007. The survey found that 108 of the homeless were living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, on the street or other places not meant for human habitation, and that 140 of the 600 were chronically homeless. Pat Hanrahan, president of United Way of the Plains, attributed the growth in homelessness to the collapsing economy. "I do think we have just gone through, and are still in, the worst recession since the Great Depression," he told the Wichita Eagle. "That combined with the fact that we're getting better at counting folks."

In Champaign County, Ill., the count found 549 homeless people, including 163 children, a 10% increase from two years ago.

In the four-county area of Hall, Dawson, Lumpkin, and White Counties, in Northeast Georgia, the count found 452 homeless individuals. "We were really shocked," said volunteer. "We didn't expect to get this much in a lot of these counties."

And homelessness means greater risk of early death, too. A recent survey in Tucson, Ariz., of about 400 homeless individuals, found that nearly half of them suffered from one or more life-threatening conditions, ranging from brain injury to end-stage renal disease. Ninety-four of them were identified as having at least three serious risk factors—mental illness, substance abuse, and at least one medical problem.

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