From Volume 38, Issue 26 of EIR Online, Published July 1, 2011

United States News Digest

Obama Turns to Wall Street To Beef Up Campaign Dirty-Tricks Fund

June 24 (EIRNS)—As many Americans starve, President Obama sucked in a reported $2.4 million from Wall Street hedge funds and private equity funds, at a $38,500-a-head fundraiser held at New York City's Upper East Side four-star Daniels Restaurant yesterday.

Among the dozens of speculators coughing up last night for Obama's reelection campaign were some of those revealed a few days ago to have attended a March 7 meeting of 30 Wall Street hedge fund speculators and money men at the White House itself. These include Avenue Capital Group CEO and billionaire Marc Lasry, York Capital Management hedge fund's Jamie Dinan, Highbridge hedge fund co-founder Glenn Dubin, and Centerbridge Partners co-founder Mark Gallogly.

Also attending yesterday's fundraiser was Robert Wolf, president and chief operating officer for UBS and the head of J.P. Morgan's own Investment Bank, Jes Staley.

Adding in the cash raised from the 600 people attending a $1,250-a-head Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Gala at the Sheraton, plus a lesser event for the "masses," the New York Daily News calculated some $4 million raised in Obama's June 24 one-night stand in New York City.

Senior Washington intelligence sources have told EIR that Obama aims to pull together a $1 billion war chest, in the name of preparing for the election.

Obama Moves To Finish Off Medicaid and SCHIP

June 24 (EIRNS)—As if the states don't already have enough difficulties, a proposal floated by the Obama Administration in deficit reduction/debt ceiling talks with the Republican legislators, would virtually eliminate Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). According to a report posted this morning by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the proposal reduces the Federal share of the Medicaid and SCHIP programs, by shifting costs to the states. The states would most likely respond by doing even more of what they've already been doing: reducing payments to providers, and reducing services available to recipients—meaning even less access to care for the poor and disabled.

Under current law, including the Affordable Care Act, states are reimbursed for their costs for providing people with insurance according to various matching rates, which range from 50% to about 95%, depending on what category the care falls into. Under the Obama proposal, that system of matching rates would be replaced by a "blended rate," which would result in states receiving less money than they do under the current system, thereby "saving" the Federal government money. According to the CBPP, this proposal does little to reduce administrative costs, or to make the program more efficient. The states would then have to make up the difference, an obvious impossibility.

The Administration is also proposing to severely restrict or bar states from taxing providers as part of their Medicaid income stream. States use these "provider taxes" as part of their matching funds, so that if the states are not able to raise these revenues, they have less money that the Federal government has to match, thereby further undermining the program. Obama's Deficit Commission estimated that barring provider taxes would save the Federal government $44 billion. The slightly less austere Obama proposal to restrict those taxes, would reduce the Federal contribution by $26.3 billion. Since the Administration has not disclosed how it would calculate the blended rate (which the CBPP argues is almost impossible to do in a fair manner, anyway) there is no estimate as to how much money that measure would "save."

In any case, either or both of these measures would do significant damage to the Medicaid and SCHIP programs, and would leave untold numbers of Americans with no health care.

Obama Afghanistan Withdrawal Plan Fails To Satisfy War Opponents

June 23 (EIRNS)—The plan to withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and the remainder of the 33,000 surge troops by next Summer, has done little to satisfy opponents of the war on both sides of the aisle in the Congress. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), speaking at the Center for American Progress in Washington today, called Obama's plan "insufficient," and "more of a continuation of current policy rather than a dramatic change." He argued that Obama needs to do the right thing, which is to bring the troops home.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who co-sponsored an amendment to the defense authorization bill with McGovern two weeks ago, to require an exit strategy for the US from Afghanistan (it failed by only 11 votes), agreed, and warned that politically, it won't fly far. "I believe there's an element in the country, whether Democratic or Republican, that's definitely not happy with what the President announced last night," he said. "This continuation shows that we're in a perpetual war state and I don't think this is going to sit well with the majority of the American people."

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) echoed Jones's view in a press release, saying that the Afghanistan war continues "with no end in sight."

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who had called for the U.S. troop presence to be reduced to 25,000 troops by the end of 2012, called Obama's speech "disappointing." "He is maintaining the same counterinsurgency, nation-building mission that we've now been on for more than a year, one that's been incredibly expensive and commits tens of thousands of troops for the long term in Afghanistan," he said.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) similarly called the planned draw-down "unacceptable" and vowed to continue to work in the Appropriations Committee to end funding for combat operations in Afghanistan.

Obama Starves the Elderly

June 21 (EIRNS)—The failure of the Obama Administration to adequately address the economic crisis through appropriate measures, such as LaRouche's Homeowners and Bank Protection Act, and the restoration of Glass-Steagall, has directly led to an increase of hunger among elderly Americans. This reality is documented in a new report released this morning by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging. It warns that hunger among elderly Americans is on the rise.

"Hunger rates have more than doubled for poor senior citizens in the United States in recent years," the report states. "According to a 2009 [University of Kentucky] study, there are over 5 million seniors who face the threat of hunger, almost 3 million seniors who are at risk of going hungry, and almost 1 million seniors who do go hungry because they cannot afford to buy food." The problem is aggravated by the fact that Area Agencies on Aging simply don't have the resources to provide services to all those in need, this despite the fact that the average cost of delivering a meal is $5 a day. Agencies reported that they have waiting lists, are struggling to provide current meals due to increases in food costs, and are losing volunteers—who often pay for gasoline used to deliver meals out of their own pockets—due to the high cost of gas.

The report doesn't address the status of funding of Federal programs under the Older Americans Act, although one can't assume that these programs are any more safe from the budget axe than the food stamp program has been. It notes, however, that these programs are a relatively small investment with a big impact, and calls for their reauthorization.

Opposition Growing to Obama's Medicare T4 Plan

June 20 (EIRNS)—The opposition to President Obama's T4 plan to deny care to Medicare patients based on you-aren't-worth-it triaging, is gaining momentum in the House of Representatives.

In an opinion piece posted on Politico June 19, Tennessee Republican Phil Roe said that he has some 120 co-sponsors on his bill, H.R. 452, that would outlaw the T4-like Independent Payment Advisory Board. As of this afternoon, the bill, the Medicare Decisions Accountability Act, has 135 co-sponsors. That number includes seven Democrats.

Noting that the regime's ghouls explicitly modeled IPAB on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in Britain, Roe wrote, "NICE recently denied use of several new drugs used to treat chronic leukemia patients. Its board's reasoning was: When we recommend the use of very expensive treatments, we need to be confident that they bring sufficient benefit to justify their cost.

"While the president claims his board will help reduce the deficit, the latest decision by NICE in Britain illustrates the likely way such deficit savings could be achieved: rationing care.

"It's easy for a board to deny funding for care. But what if you're the patient with leukemia, or a doctor trying to offer the best care? NICE's decision ignores quality of care if the treatment is deemed too expensive by the medical board's standard.

"Decisions like these are what the IPAB will have the authority to make. This cannot be allowed to happen."

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