Fw: Attacks on US working class, poor and oppressed -

From: Paul Bullock (paulbullock@EBMS-LTD.CO.UK)
Date: Fri May 02 2003 - 17:20:13 EDT


Subject: Attacks on US working class, poor and oppressed -

> This is LeiLani Dowell's notes for her speech at the April 19th

> ANSWER Teach In on Iraq, Palestine & the US Global War Drive, San
> Francisco.
>
> (Note to reader)
> Medicaid - "Medicaid is a jointly-funded, Federal-State health
> insurance program for certain low-income and needy people. It covers
> approximately 36 million individuals including children, the aged,
> blind, and/or disabled, and people who are eligible to receive
> federally assisted income maintenance payments." NB - kids, but not
> their parents ... caps benefits too low for AIDs drugs etc etc.
> Remember, there's no NHS. If you don't have insurance and you don't
> qualify for Medicaid, you have to go to the public hospital or a
> volunteer clinic.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
>  LeiLani's notes
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
> While the war on Iraq has been in the headlines for the past few
> months, there's another battle going on that you'd probably miss if
> you didn't pay extremely close attention, a war that is far more
> harmful and deadly to the people of the United States than any
> so-called "terrorist" threat from abroad.  What I'm talking about is
> the war on the poor and people of color - in the United States - that
> is being waged by the Bush administration.
>
> WAR ON THE POOR - this term used a lot; what does it actually mean?
> What is actually being done?  Through small changes that will have
> big effects on the people:
>
>
> Requiring Documentation:
>
> School lunch and breakfast programs: widely credited with reducing
> hunger and malnutrition among children in the U.S.
>
> Change: Bush proposes new requirement: documentation of income level
>
> Problem: This done in response to a report saying 24 percent of kids
> enrolled ineligible.  However, nonpartisan Center on Budget and
> Policy Priorities says almost 75-80 percent of families declared
> "ineligible" simply didn't respond.  According to Dr. David Hilfiker,
> "studies also show that in populations with erratic work histories
> and complicated family lives, especially immigrant families who don't
> speak English well, requiring documentation drives away more eligible
> than ineligible people.
>
> Result: CBPP estimates if passed, this proposal would keep over two
> million eligible kids from receiving free or reduced-cost meals.
>
>
> Earned Income Tax Credit: provides refundable tax credit to working
> families
>
> Change: more documentation required
>
> Problem: This done in response to a 1999 IRS report showing a 20-25
> percent error rate.  However, this could be significantly fixed with
> simplification of tax forms (who understands them anyway?).  Same
> problem as with school lunches, as far as requiring documentation.
> Dr. Hilfiker: "Nevermind that the tax-fudging that costs the
> government the most revenue comes from corporate tax shelters,
> President Bush chooses to go after the working poor - those with the
> least political power and the most to lose.
>
>
>
> Block grants:
>
> Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program:
>
> Change: from entitlement programs into block grants - increased
> funding over the next seven years and increased state flexibility in
> running the program with a cap in years 7-10 on federal expenditures.
> Problem: as a block grant with increased flexibility, and with states
> in times of financial distress (as we have now in all 50 states), may
> reduce expenditures - used as a loan instead to puff up budget.
> Then, when the money runs out in seven years (while inflation
> increases, the trend of fewer employers covering health insurance
> continues, baby boomers age), the current administrators don't have
> to worry about it - they'll be out of office by then.
>
> Change: Merging of Children's Health Insurance program with Medicaid,
> as well as Disproportionate Share Hospital program - program that
> gives hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of
> Medicaid/uninsured patients supplemental Medicaid payments.
>
> Problem: merging the two means children will have to compete with the
> elderly for funds.  DSH merging means hospitals would now have to
> compete with all other providers for what will be limited Medicaid
> funds.
>
> **Bush also tried limiting emergency medical services by allowing
> states to set a maximum number of visits to the emergency room, but
> rules rescinded due to pressure five days before passed.  Just
> another example of Bush's hostility to the poor.
>
>
> Education:
>
> Headstart: same block grant treatment as the Medicaid program.
>
> After-school services - at a time when we see the growth of the
> prison industrial complex, Bush proposes to cut after-school services
> by $400 million.
>
> No Child Left Behind: focus on standardized testing as way to earn
> funds means schools force students to cram for tests of limited kinds
> of information, rather than teach them critical thinking, creative
> and writing skills, etc.  Once a school fails, subject to "sanctions"
> that move funding from public to private sector, including
> subcontracting of services.
>
>
> Housing:
>
> Bush proposes turning Section 8 into a block grant.
>
> Program that demolished 115,000 dilapidated public housing units and
> built 60,000 new ones over the past ten years is eliminated.
>
>
> Welfare:
>
> Bush proposes changes to increase work participation and reduce state
> flexibility in administering the program.
>
>  parent's participation in education or vocational training,
> substance abuse treatment, other programs designed to address
> barriers to employment limited to three months in any two-year
> period.  Then parents would have to go to work.  If not, states would
> develop unpaid "workfare" programs to employ them.  All recipients
> have to work 40-hours a week - previously moms with kids under six
> could work part-time.
>  President's new budget acknowledges over 200,000 kids will be
> dropped from childcare over next five years.
>
> Quote: Dr. Hilfiker: "What will ultimately prove the most devastating
> for the poor, however, are not the specifics of any policy or group
> of policies, but the Bush Administration's direct assault on the
> federal budget and the very concept of progressive taxation. The
> multi-trillion dollar tax cuts passed and proposed, which go
> primarily to the wealthy, and the vast increases in the military
> budget and defense spending, combined with an economic recession that
> shows no sign of going away soon, have devastated the federal budget.
>
> 2004 budget: "lifetime savings accounts," which will allow anyone to
> save up to $7,500 per year for any purpose and all interest, dividend
> or capital gains income from these accounts would be forever tax
> free. It will also more than double the contribution limit for
> "retirement savings accounts" (from $3,000 to $7,500) and remove the
> income limits that had previously confined these accounts to
> middle-income families. Altogether, a couple could set aside up to
> $30,000 a year in these tax-free accounts--$3 million to $4 million
> including interest over a working life. To these two blockbuster
> proposals must be added the proposed or already enacted $5,000
> medical savings accounts, $2,000 education savings accounts, college
> savings plans (which allow hundreds of thousands of dollars of
> tax-free savings for education), and traditional pensions and 401(k)
> retirement accounts (which were vastly expanded in 2001).
>
> But, you may well ask, how could this be an attack on the tax system
> itself, much less the poor? As it happens, people with incomes over
> $1 million a year get more than 40 percent of that income from
> savings accounts. Many earn all of their income from savings. Further
> exempting these high-income people from income tax makes the entire
> tax system far less progressive. Tax revenue has to come from
> someplace, however, so either social programs are cut or
> middle-class, working-class, and poor people are forced to pay more
> taxes.
>
> Cutting corners on the poor in order to fund a global war -$75
> billion now, hundreds of billions for reconstruction of Iraq - in the
> name of security and liberation while giving a break for those who
> certainly don't need it.
>
> WAR ON PEOPLE OF COLOR
>
> Patriot Act II
>
> L.A. Times article, 2/13/03: Since Sept. 11, 2001, the government has
> rounded up hundreds of people in secret and refused to disclose even
> their names, on the spurious grounds that this protects their
> privacy. As drafted, the measure would remove existing protections
> under the Freedom of Information Act, making it easier for the
> government to hide whom it is holding and why, and preventing the
> public from ever obtaining embarrassing information about government
> overreaching.
>
> Another section would nullify existing consent decrees against state
> law enforcement agencies that prevent the agencies from spying on
> individuals and organizations. These consent decrees were crafted
> because state and local governments illegally invaded the privacy of
> American citizens and repeatedly violated their civil rights. To make
> matters worse, the proposed bill prevents courts from issuing
> injunctions to block future abuses.
>
> Perhaps the most troubling section would strip U.S. citizenship from
> anyone who gives "material support" to any group that the attorney
> general designates as a terrorist organization. Under our
> Constitution, Americans can't be deprived of their citizenship, and
> the rights that go with it, unless they voluntarily give it up.
>
> The Times concluded: The Bush administration claimed last year that
> the original Patriot Act gave it the tools it needed to fight the war
> on terror at a minimal cost to civil liberties. These new proposals
> show, however, that the administration still is not satisfied. It now
> seems clear that there is no civil right -- even the precious right
> of citizenship -- that this administration will not abuse to secure
> ever-greater control over American life. The Bush administration and
> Ashcroft have become addicted to secrecy and are drunk on power; the
> more they obtain, they more they demand.
>
> 9/20/01 Detention Without Charge
> Department of Justice issues interim regulation allowing detention
> without charge for 48 hours (or an additional "reasonable period of
> time") in the event of emergency.
>
> 9/21/01 Secret Proceedings
> Department of Justice instructs immigration judges to keep September
> 11-related bond and deportation hearings closed, allowing no
> visitors, family, or press and releasing no records or information
> about cases, including whether they are on the docket or scheduled
> for hearings.
>
> 10/26/01 USA PATRIOT Act
> Bush signs the USA PATRIOT Act, which gives broad powers to conduct
> searches, use electronic surveillance, and detain suspected
> terrorists.
>
> 10/31/01 Indefinite Detention
> Ashcroft issues an edict allowing INS to detain immigrants even after
> an immigration judge has ordered their release for lack of evidence.
> The measure, in effect, results in indefinite detention.
>
> 11/7/01 Terrorist Task Force
> Bush announces the creation of the first Foreign Terrorist Tracking
> Task Force, which will deny entry, detain, prosecute, and deport
> anyone suspected of terrorist activity.
>
> 11/9/01 Questioning of 5,000 Men
> Ashcroft orders the questioning of 5,000 men ages 18-33 who came from
> countries connected to al Qaeda. Although "voluntary," investigators
> were instructed to check immigration status and hold those with
> immigration violations.
>
> 11/13/01 Military Tribunals
> Bush issues an executive order creating military tribunals to try
> non-citizens alleged to be involved in terrorism.
>
> 11/16/01 No Names Released
> DOJ declares that identities and locations of 9/11 detainees will not
> be disclosed. By this time, it's believed there are at least 1,200,
> mostly Arab and Muslim men.
>
> 11/19/01 Airport Screeners Targeted
> FAA requires U.S. citizenship for airport security screeners. Out of
> 28,000 screeners nationwide, 10,000 are thought to be immigrants.
>
> 11/29/01 Snitch Visas
> Ashcroft authorizes the use of S visas for those who provide
> information relating to terrorism.
>
> 12/01 Operation Tarmac
> Operation Tarmac, a multi-agency sweep of airports nationwide,
> begins-resulting in more than 1,000 arrests and deportations of
> undocumented airport workers. In southern California, about 100
> people were arrested, with 85 charged with document fraud. The
> government has since reduced most of the charges against workers to
> misdemeanors.
>
> 12/4/01 Senate Hearings
> Senate holds hearings on 9/11 detainees. Ashcroft testifies that
> those who question his policies are "aiding and abetting terrorism,"
> and goes largely unchallenged.
>
> 12/5/01 Absconders Initiative
> INS announces that it will send the names of 314,000 immigrants with
> outstanding orders of deportation to the FBI for inclusion in the
> National Crime Information Center database. Law enforcement agencies
> begin to pursue what will become known as the "Alien Absconders
> Apprehension Initiative"-eventually resulting in 758 arrests,
> according to the INS.
>
> 1/8/02 AAI Targets 6,000 Men
> DOJ adds to the "Absconders Apprehension Initiative" the names of
> 6,000 men from countries suspected of connections to al-Qaeda.
>
> 2/02 No-Match Letters
> Social Security Administration begins sending "no-match" letters to
> more than 750,000 employers, compared to 100,000 in previous years.
> Thousands of workers have lost jobs as a result.
>
> 2/4/02 Budget for War on Terrorism
> Bush submits a budget proposal that would significantly slash
> domestic programs to divert funds to the war on terrorism. The
> proposal includes the largest defense spending increase in 20 years
> and significant funding for INS enforcement efforts.
>
> 2/8/02 Targeting Undocumented
> DOJ memo instructs federal antiterrorism officials to apprehend and
> interrogate thousands of undocumented immigrants with deportation
> orders. The memo reportedly instructs federal agents to find a way to
> detain some of them for possible criminal charges.
>
> 2/25/02 Militarizing the Border
> DOJ enters into agreement with the Department of Defense to provide
> 700 National Guard troops to assist the Border Patrol at the southern
> and northern borders.
>
> 3/02 Restricting Drivers' Licenses
> Congress and state legislatures begin considering measures to
> restrict immigrants' access to drivers' licenses.
>
> 3/19/02 Questioning of 3,000
> DOJ announces interviews with 3,000 more Arabs and Muslims in the
> U.S. as visitors or students.
>
> 4/3/02 Police with INS Power
> Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel issues an opinion
> that local law enforcement agencies have authority to enforce
> immigration laws.
>
> 4/25/02 INS Restructuring
> The House passes an INS restructuring bill that would dismantle the
> agency.
>
> 6/5/02 INS Registration Requirement
> Ashcroft announces a new requirement for certain non-immigrants
> deemed a national security risk to register and submit fingerprints
> and photographs upon arrival in the U.S., report to the INS at
> regular intervals, and notify an INS agent of their departure-with
> possible criminal prosecution for noncompliance.
>
> 6/5/02 Dept. of Homeland Security
> Administration announces a proposal for a new Department of Homeland
> Security, which would combine the functions of multiple agencies in
> the largest government restructuring since the post-World War II era.
>
>
> 6/26/02 Enemy Combatants
> Bush declares two U.S. citizens, Jose Padilla and Yassar Hamdi,
> "enemy combatants" who can be held until the end of the war on
> terrorism, without access to an attorney or to challenge their
> detention in federal court.
>
> 7/2/02 Florida Gives Police INS Powers
> Florida becomes the first state to sign an agreement with the DOJ to
> allow state law enforcement officials to enforce immigration laws.
>
> 7/11/02 Sept. 11 Detainees Deported
> DOJ announces that most of the detainees picked up as part of its
> investigations of September 11 have been released and many of them
> deported.
>
> 7/26/02 Notify INS of Address Change
> Ashcroft proposes implementation of a 50-year-old requirement that
> foreigners alert the government within 10 days of changing addresses.
> Failing to register a change of address could result in deportation.
>
> 9/9/02 Colleges Turn Over Student Info
> DOJ has asked more than 200 colleges to provide information on their
> Middle Eastern students.
>
> 9/11/02 "Special Registration" Begins
> New registration requirements are put in effect for non-citizens from
> Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Sudan.
>
> 11/26/02 Homeland Security Act
> Bush signs Homeland Security Act, creating the cabinet-level
> Department of Homeland Security.
>
> 12/18/02 INS Registrants Jailed
> Hundreds of Iranian and other Middle Eastern nationals were arrested
> and held in Southern California when they came forward to comply with
> registration requirements. Immigrant groups estimate more than 500
> people are jailed in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego.
>
> 1/10/03 More Nationalities Targeted
> Registration deadline for men from North Korea, United Arab Emirates,
> Morocco, Afghanistan, and nine other countries. Two more rounds of
> registrations will follow with the goal of tracking most foreign
> nationals by 2005
> There are a million other ways this is happening: affirmative action,
> attacks on labor, prison industrial complex, police brutality.
>
If you've heard me speak before, I talk a lot about global
connections.  This is the most important connection we need to make.



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