From Volume 38, Issue 24 of EIR Online, Published June 17, 2011

United States News Digest

Deadly Third-World Disease Hits Joplin Tornado Survivors

June 11 (EIRNS)—President Obama was in the air en route the British Isles when, on May 22, the deadliest tornado in U.S. history struck Joplin, Mo. Rather than return, he continued on for days of celebrations with the British royals.

While Obama was wining and dining at Buckingham Palace, survivors of the Joplin tornado were beginning to succumb to mucormycosis, a rare but deadly fungal disease, usually limited to severely immune-compromised individuals, including victims of extreme malnutrition or uncontrolled diabetes. Eight cases have so far been found in Joplin, three of whom have died.

A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) spokesman said that clusters of cases are extremely rare. The December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed one-quarter million persons, produced a handful of known cases of subcutaneous mucormycosis, the rarest form of what is already a rare disease in the United States. In both Joplin and that tsunami, the likelihood is that untreated diabetes or immune-compromised conditions more characteristic of Third World conditions combined with traumatic wounds to render the victims susceptible to the disease.

Since only rapid diagnosis and treatment can sometimes avert near-certain death for victims of this disease, Obama's dallying in London rather than rallying U.S. emergency resources to Joplin, has assured otherwise preventable deaths. And his blocking of the re-enactment of Glass-Steagall insured that Third World conditions would grow and fester in Joplin and elsewhere in the U.S. before this latest disaster.

Obama Planning New Attack on FDR's Social Security System

June 10 (EIRNS)—President Obama's advisors are discussing a "temporary" cut in the payroll taxes that businesses pay on wages, Bloomberg reported yesterday. "A hiring stimulus based on a tax break for employers may appeal to Republican lawmakers, many of whom have called for measures to help businesses," the Bloomberg said. "The idea of a cut in the employer contribution to payroll taxes also has recently been under discussion among Republican members of Congress."

Last December, Obama cut a deal with the Republicans for a "payroll tax holiday" for the employees' portion of the tax. EIR said at the time that this was a foot-in-the-door for an all-out assault on Social Security, and we quoted spokesmen for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, saying that this shows that Obama does not understand FDR's scheme for Social Security—to make Social Security a self-financing insurance program, and thus to keep the Trust Fund inviolate—and that it was part of a long-term GOP plan to destroy Social Security by mixing it with the general Federal budget.

FDR himself stated: "We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security program."

Yesterday, the same National Committee said in a statement: "Just six months ago, Washington promised the $112 billion diversion of payroll taxes from Social Security would be a temporary stimulus. Now, it appears some leaders who are negotiating a debt ceiling deal are proposing not only to extend this stimulus measure but actually expand it—diverting even more money away from Social Security.... American workers have successfully funded the Social Security program for 75 years and that critical linkage between contributions and benefits is what keeps Social Security a self-funded program. Proposals to divert workers payroll taxes way from Social Security threaten the program's independence, forcing it to compete for already limited Federal dollars."

Fiscal Year State Budget Massacres Underway

June 9 (EIRNS)—With all but four states facing the start of their new fiscal years on July 1, state legislatures are scrambling to do the impossible: balance their budgets in the middle of the general breakdown of the Trans-Atlantic financial system.

Typical is the case of California, where, because there is still no state budget, local governments are being forced to make horrible choices. Today, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted to cut $30 million from their 2011-12 budget, mostly from law enforcement.

In Ohio, where Republicans have control of state legislature and governorship, the state Senate yesterday rammed through the budget championed by Gov. John Kasich, which cuts nearly $2 billion in payments to local governments and schools, $470 million from nursing homes, and mandates the privatization of six state prisons, state liquor operations, the state lottery, and the state turnpike. The vote ran along straight party lines. State Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) warned that hundreds of city workers will be laid off under this budget.

The budget still has to go through conference committee with the Republican-dominated House, which has different preferences for cuts, but the general contours are the same.

Kasich demanded that people in Washington look at what Ohio is doing: We wiped out a deficit ($6 billion) and still cut taxes (estate taxes). "This is a big, big deal."

Opposition Growing to Obama's IPAB Rationing Board

June 9 (EIRNS)—The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, which supports Obamacare overall, is the latest organization to come out in active opposition to Obama's Independent Payments Advisory Board, joining almost 150 Members of Congress and numerous medical advocacy organizations.

The IPAB, like Hitler's T4 euthanasia program, will decide who lives, who dies.

"IPAB turns Medicare into a scapegoat," said Max Richtman, executive vice president and acting CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. "Medicare will be forced to make reductions without addressing the rest of the health care costs." Richtman said that the National Committee is also concerned about the provisions in the Obamacare law that make it exceedingly difficult for Congress to overturn any decisions by the board, since Congress is required to come up with an equal amount of savings from another source, to block the board's decisions.

IPAB "is facing a groundswell of opposition from unexpected corners," Politico reported on June 8. Seven House Democrats have signed on to support H.R. 452, the House bill to repeal IPAB, joining 117 GOP co-sponsors. The latest Democrat to join the opposition is Rep. Kathy Castor (Fla.). Sources tell Politico that other Democrats have also indicated privately that they will support repeal if it comes to the House floor.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing entitled "IPAB: The Controversial Consequences for Medicare and Seniors," on June 14.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the sponsor of the corresponding Senate bill, said he doesn't expect IPAB to be repealed in its first Senate vote. "We're getting very close. I think this is one of the most obnoxious parts of the health care bill that we passed in 2010," he said. "Nothing's easy around here, so it may take a couple of votes."

Obama Cheers Merkel's Anti-Nuclear Policy

June 7 (EIRNS)—President Obama said, in an interview with Berliner Tagesspiegel Washington correspondent Christoph von Marshall, which appeared in that daily and in Wormser Zeitung yesterday, that "Germany's commitment to the environment is admirable, and there are things we can learn from Berlin about how becoming greener can actually push economic growth." He said that he was greatly impressed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's "focus on green jobs and new technology—things we're focusing on in the U.S., too." The interview was arranged for publication on Merkel's arrival in the United States yesterday. She is accompanied by her foreign, defense, finance, economics, and internal security ministers.

Obama's remarks were foreshadowed May 31, when U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman, at a nuclear power conference, refused to criticize Merkel's plan to phase out all nuclear plants, saying instead: "I don't think it's for one country to second-guess the decisions that another country makes."

However, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) yesterday said bluntly: "I do not agree with the decision the Germans have made to totally eliminate their production of power from nuclear sources." He said that nuclear energy is an essential part of a country's energy portfolio, because it is a low-emissions power source. "I think that is a step back from the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" to exit nuclear, Bingaman said. "By far the largest portion of power produced in the world that is not emitting greenhouse gases is the power produced from nuclear facilities. So, I think it is unfortunate that they've chosen not to continue with that."

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