||This article appears in the May 4, 2001 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Saving D.C. Hospital Is
by Nancy Spannaus
Watershed Issue for Congress
[PDF version of this article]
The stakes were raised again April 27 in the nationally supported and internationally watched battle to save Washington, D.C.'s public hospital, D.C. General Hospital, from closing. The embattled Washington City Council, backed by mobilized representatives of the city's churches, unions, and neighborhood councils, unanimously overrode Mayor Anthony Williams's veto of their unanimous April 18 vote to fund the hospital. They then called on the U.S. Congress to support them in keeping the hospital open, against the fascist austerity of the D.C. Financial Control Board (the extra-governmental body that Newt Gingrich's Congress imposed on the District's elected government in 1995).
Democratic Presidential pre-candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. said that if the Congress of the United States capitulates to Washington Post owner KKK-Katie Graham on D.C. General Hospital, then they will have reduced themselves to the same status as the German Reichstag after the famous fire used by Hitler to impose his dictatorship.
At this point, the decision on the fate of the capital's only public hospital is directly in Congress's hands. In the appropriations bills of 2001, the Congress, as well as the D.C. Financial Control Board, mandated that the District's public health system be "restructured," meaning privatization and the shutdown of D.C. General Hospital. Thanks to the mobilization by a broad coalition to save the hospital, under the leadership of associates of LaRouche, the D.C. City Council has decided to resist this diktat. By rare 13-0 and 12-0 votes, they funded the hospital and then reinstated the funding over the veto of the Mayor; he is acting as a toady of Katharine Graham's secretive financial elite grouping known as the Federal City Council, which has slated the hospital's land for real estate "redevelopment." Thus the Council affirmed again its judgment that the hospital should continue to be a fully funded, full-service public facility.
Ask Congress To Intervene
At a press conference on April 27, City Council Chairman Linda Cropp pointed to the hope that the U.S. Congress, which established the Financial Control Board, and could block the board's actions, would intervene to support the Council's action. If the Congress is not forced by citizen pressure to do so, the Financial Control Board plans to simply impose the murderous privatization/closing plan on the city. A simple case of bankers' dictatorship.
The stakes in this battle have been made excruciatingly clear to the Congress, residents of the District, and millions of citizens internationally, by the LaRouche movement. Behind the decision to close D.C. General is the Nazi economic policy of the financial elite, led by Graham's Invisible Empire (see EIR, April 27, 2001), including the leading bankers and real estate developers and devoted absolutely to depopulation, getting rid of those it considers "useless eaters." Such a Nazi policy directly violates the General Welfare commitment of the U.S. Constitution, which every Congressman, and Admnistration official, has sworn to uphold. But if the mobilized citizenry of these United States can reverse this policy, that would be a blow to reverse the global onslaught by international fascist financiers, now entering a genocidal frenzy due to the dramatic collapse of the utterly bankrupt world financial system. The Nietzschean proclivities of the Bush Administration would hit a roadblock of the only sort they understand: political power.
Challenging KKK-Katie's Kontrol Board
Tension has been building in this by-no-means local battle. A more than eight-hour "public roundtable" sponsored by the D.C. City Council on April 27, reflected the fact that the battle is coming to a head.
Most extraordinary was the combativeness of the City Council members holding the hearing. Chair Sandra Allen opened up by excoriating Mayor Williams for being "missing in action," and she was followed up by other Council members, who exposed in great detail the fact that the current contract which the Control Board and Mayor want to sign, in order to sell off D.C. General, will dramatically reduce health-care services for D.C. residents, particularly the working poor. The Council members were equally outraged about the threats which they have received from the Mayor and the Financial Control Board, that they must agree to the hospital deal, or "jeopardize home rule." "What kind of home rule is it, to do what you're told to do, with a hammer over your head?" asked Republican City Councilman Carol Schwartz. "This is insane and inane."
The financial establishment is obviously feeling the heat. For the first time in its existence, the Control Board--which calls itself "the Authority"--sent one of its members to appear before the City Council. If the Control Board thought Eugene Kinlow, an elderly African-American who has personal friendships with several Councilmembers, would be able to cajole them into line, it was totally wrong. After more than an hour and a half of blistering questioning, Kinlow left the Council chambers in tears. And city officials who stayed behind felt the further heat of the Council and the new popular movement behind it. Typical was the attitude of Councilman David Catania (R-At Large), who bluntly refused to ask the Mayor's health representative, Dr. Ivan Walks, any questions, because "there is no truth here, just lies."
Reflective of the support for the Council's opposition to diktat, was the showing of both prominent and ordinary citizens who came to testify for saving the hospital. Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who served in the Clinton Administration, and Michigan State Delegate Lamar Lemmons (D) both gave the Council their support. Lemmons reported that he was working hard to deliver the Michigan Congressional delegation to support keeping the hospital open. Michigan is a crucial battleground state, as leading Democratic institutions, such as the Detroit City Council and the Michigan Black Caucus, have passed resolutions supporting the hospital, while the chairman of the D.C. Appropriations Committee, Republican Rep. Joe Knollenberg, is also from Michigan.
More than a dozen other citizens, some of them from the hospital and some from the LaRouche movement and coalition, also presented testimony ripping the Control Board plan to shreds.
Fascists Plan To Go Ahead
The D.C. General Hospital battle pits citizens directly against the genocidal policy of the top financial powers in Washington, the nation, and the world. It is the Wall Street financial establishment to which KKK-Katie Graham, her Federal City Council, and former Federal Reserve Governor Alice Rivlin's Control Board itself answer; and they are maniacally determined to exert power. Thus, Rivlin made it known that the Control Board intended to override the City Council by May 1, to implement the deal to privatize and close D.C. General.
In an April 23 conversation with a local journalist, Glenn Dixon, the spokesman for the D.C. Financial Control Board, expressed confidence that Congress would do absolutely nothing to impede the Board's plan to shut down the hospital. The Control Board, he said, "is authorized to act in lieu of the Council if it so decides. We are fully empowered to execute and begin the process of implementation of the contract." He confirmed that May 1 is the "planned start date for the contract," but added that it wasn't "an unequivocal, drop dead date."
As to the role of Congress, Dixon arrogantly noted that the Board would notify the relevant Congressional committees "of our intent to go forward," as the enabling legislation requires, but added that the Control Board was confident that Congress would not get in their way. "The likelihood that they [Congress] will do anything more, than simply accept our notification and indicate their acknowledgment of our intention, is unlikely--it's not impossible, but it's highly unlikely."
A spokesman for the FDR-PAC, the political action committee associated with Lyndon LaRouche that has been directing a nationwide mobilization to force the Congress to stop the hospital's closing, as part of Congress's sworn obligation to defend the General Welfare, responded to Dixon's remarks. "We don't think the Control Board's arrogant confidence is necessarily grounded in reality. Based on the intensity of the national opposition to the shutdown of D.C. General, we have every reason to expect that Congress will stand up to Wall Street's Katharine Graham--actually, we call her, appropriately, KKK-Katie Graham--and the attempt to dictatorially implement a Nazi 'Negro Removal' policy in the nation's capital. If they don't, it will immediately result in the deaths of many people, who will be denied the speedy quality care that D.C. General now provides to anyone who comes through its doors, whether they are rich or poor, black or white, insured or uninsured. But, even more important, if Congress were to fail to act, that failure would constitute a conscious choice to allow the imposition of a fascist policy by KKK-Katie Graham's and Wall Street's Financial Control Board, against the fundamental intent of U.S. law, and of the legally elected government of the region. If the Congress were to submit to that, they might as well pour into the streets of Washington, D.C. and publicly commit self-castration."
As of this writing, it is clear that the Control Board is feeling the heat. The Board has called a public meeting for 2 p.m. on April 30, in the same building and at the same time that the Council hearing was held. The stated purpose of the meeting is to consider: 1) actions regarding the provision of health-care services for indigent residents of the District; 2) the future role of the Public Benefit Corp. (which operates D.C. General) in the provision of those services; and 3) the recent supplemental appropriations bill enacted by the D.C. Council, which provided $21 million to keep the hospital operating. A Board spokesman said it is unlikely that the Control Board would take any action to execute the contract before the meeting.