United States News Digest
Debt Ceiling Negotiations Are a Complete Fraud
July 24 (EIRNS)Tensions between the White House and Congressional Democrats are boiling over, as negotiations on the debt ceiling drag on. A number of Senate Democrats, including Majority Letter Harry Reid (Nev.), John Kerry (Mass.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), and possibly others not named, were attending a meeting with Office of Management and Budget director Jacob Lew on July 21, when rumors flashed across their Blackberries of a $3 trillion deal between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Mikulski said afterwards that when the rumors of mega-cuts and no new taxes came across, "it was like Mount Vesuvius.... Many of us were volcanic." Reid threatened that if the deal comes to a vote in the Senate, the Democratic Caucus will oppose it. "I'm the Senate Majority Leader," Reid reportedly said. "Why don't I know about this deal?" One unnamed Senator told The Hill, "There's a basic lack of trust with the president," which stems from suspicions that Obama is negotiating in secret with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio). According to the Senator's account of the meeting, Lew at first denied that there was any deal, then argued that Obama has to negotiate alone with Boehner if there is to be a deal that will pass the House of Representatives. They can't do that, "if there are too many people in the room."
There was a later meeting the same evening between Obama and the four top Congressional Democrats, Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.). One source reported to EIR that there was a lot of shouting at this meeting, with the Democrats accusing Obama of betraying the Democratic Party by attempting to give away entitlements in his negotiations with Boehner.
After an hour-long meeting on July 22, Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Vice President Biden emerged from their meeting with Obama to announce to the world that ... once again, they had not reached an agreement on a deal.
Obama, revealing where his real concerns lie, said: "It's very important that the leadership understands that Wall Street will be opening on Monday, and we'd better have some answers during the course of the next several days," since a deal must be presented to Congress on July 27 in order to be approved before the deadline of Aug. 2.
Lyndon LaRouche commented during his July 21 webcast: "This is a fraud, a complete fraud. There's no truth to it. We have to crack down with a Glass-Steagall law. Otherwise, anything you're doing is just nothing but an act of masturbation."
Congressmen Forced To Go on Record on 'Ethics' Office
July 22 (EIRNS)The so-called ethics process in the U.S. House of Representatives has been largely dysfunctional since the creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in 2008. In fact, the OCE, a parallel structure set up outside of the Congress, conducted Operation Frühmenschen-style witch hunts against Congressional Black Caucus members and any other House Democrats who crossed swords with Pelosi and President Obama. Leading Democrats opposed to the creation of the OCE publicly assailed it, and Lyndon LaRouche, in a July 30, 2010 statement, called it flagrantly unconstitutional.
The OCE was the vehicle for targeting Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), sparking legislation last year, sponsored by many members of the Black Caucus, to abolish it. This morning, members of the House were forced to go on the record when an amendment to the legislative branch appropriations bill, to reduce the budget of OCE by 40%, sponsored by Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), came to a floor vote.
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 102 to 301, but the debate allowed Watt and several of his supporters to air their charges against the OCE. Watt told the House that he thinks there is substantial bipartisan consensus that "the responsibilities of the OCE are redundant and duplicative of the House Ethics Committee; two, that the OCE's operations are substantially staff-driven, and the staff has taken the OCE's mission well beyond what was intended in the statute that created the entity; and three, that the procedures of the OCE are unfair and sometimes abusive of the rights of Members of the House," among other things. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) added that the OCE members "have gone on witch hunts. They have taken pieces of information that came from political opposition on either side and embellished that into things."
Meanwhile, the case of Maxine Waters, initiated by the OCE, is on hold until the outside counsel hired by the House Ethics Committee completes his review of the conduct of the committee staff in that case. In a statement issued on July 20, Reps. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the committee, said that the allegations of serious misconduct by certain members of the committee staff in the Waters case will be reviewed by attorney Billy Martin, before any determination is made regarding the disposition of that case, and Waters herself will be given an additional opportunity "to clarify her concerns to the committee and outside counsel."
Obama Accused of Violating Law with White House Fundraising
July 20 (EIRNS)Two scandals concerning Obama's use of White House facilities for campaign fundraising are hitting his reelection campaign, and will feed the drive for impeachment.
First, yesterday, RNC chairman Reince Priebus called on the Justice Department to investigate whether Obama broke Federal election laws by conducting illegal political fundraising in the White House. According to Federal law, it is a crime for the President of the United States to solicit political contributions in a place of official government business. Yet, a fundraising video featuring Obama appears to have been recorded in the Map Room, which is often used in the discharge of official duties. "If President Obama recorded the video in the Map Room, then it appears he has committed a crime under federal law," Priebus wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. The Map Room has been "used for a myriad of official functions, including the administration of the oath of office" and also the launch of the administration's effort to reduce government waste, Priebus wrote, noting that "the facts of this case strongly suggest a crime was committed," he said.
The second case is a secret March 7 event sponsored by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for financial executives, in which Obama met with more than two dozen financial leaders and executives in the Blue Room of the White House. Although the White House maintains that this was not a fundraising event, almost all of the attendees are contributors or fundraisers for Obama's campaigns, both 2008 and 2012. Moreover, recently released 2nd quarter fundraising data shows that at least 16 of those attending served as "bundlers" for Obama's 2012 campaign, raising almost $4 million for the campaign in the April-June period, following the March 7 meeting.
On July 11, California Rep. Darrell Issa (R), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, called for an investigation into the meeting, asked for information from the White House, and called for the preservation of documents related to any campaign-related events hosted by administration officials. "These fund-raising activities appear to be part of a broader Administration strategy to maximize campaign donations for the upcoming campaign while simultaneously using official resources to suppress the fund-raising of potential political opponents," Issa wrote.
On July 13, Issa sent a letter to the DNC, and asked for copies of DNC documents related to the March 7 Blue Room event and other possible uses of government property for fundraising. The letter establishes the legal framework for a subsequent subpoena of DNC documents. "Please provide the requested documents and information as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on July 27, 2011," it said.
Wall Street Speculators Target U.S. States
July 20 (EIRNS)Continuing its financial warfare against the United States, the speculator hit-squad, Moody's Rating Services, yesterday threatened to downgrade five of the 15 U.S. states which still have a AAA-rating, should a Federal debt-ceiling agreement not be reached, allegedly because of their dependence on Federal funding. Those targetted were Maryland, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, whose debt costs would rise if the speculators get their way.
The situation in already untenable in Tennessee, for example, where state budget cuts have had draconian effects. Cuts in funding of Chattanooga's mental-health program mean that over 2,000 people with autism, cerebral palsy, and mental disabilities will no longer receive help, come Aug. 12. Yesterday, the opening of public school classes in Memphis was put on indefinite hold, until that city comes up with millions it doesn't have.