The Newt Gingrich Gang in the House of Representatives had a particularly banner third week in September hijacking America on behalf of large corporations. Consider the following:
1. Gingrich is pushing to allow companies to raid their workers’ pension funds once they define them as overfunded. The Pension Rights Center warns that, given the serious problems of underfunded pension plans in recent years, it is not wise to deplete any of these private pension plans given the uncertainties of both the companies’ conditions and that of economy. This is especially true since the federal government guarantees these pension plans with federal dollars.
2. Gingrich unveiled a limited Medicare proposal with a higher elderly premium and a more restricted Medicaid for the poor. Other provisions in the bill induce the hospital and doctors’ lobby to like it, so you can guess who is being pressed and who is to profit.
In the same proposal, Gingrich limits the responsibility of doctors and hospitals when they commit serious malpractice on innocent patients. No public hearings are to be allowed on this momentous downgrading, though, by contrast, Gingrich & company have had many days of hearings on Whitewater and Waco.
3. Clicking his heels before Big Business, Gingrich, again without public hearings, sneaked a 6 year fast track authority to be used to expand the discredited and costly NAFTA and the World Trade Organization.
Fast track means that Congress has to enact the global corporations’ trade uber alles agenda via the White House without any permitted amendments. Debate is strictly limited under a short timetable. This fast track power is to set the stage for other South American nations to join NAFTA and have their shaky currencies bailed out by the U.S.A. the way $50 billions of dollars are now bailing out the Peso of the Mexican oligarchs and dictatorial government.
4. Not wanting an open debate, the Gingrich Gang carried the water of the banks to weaken the Community Re-investment Act (CRA) and shred its enforcement capability. The CRA was passed in 1977 to combat red-lining of lower income neighborhoods by banks. The law has worked well. Banks have provided more than $60 billion in loans to new homeowners with good overall repayment records. “If it’s not broke, fix it” seems to be Gingrich’s motto.
5. Another successful program — Legal Services for the Poor was moved closer toward termination, despite reminders by many supporters of what can happen when poor people cannot get justice from health clinics, landlords, police, loan shops, etc. because they cannot afford a lawyer.
After the Chicago disturbances in 1968, the Kerner Commission’s report in 1969 concluded, in part, that people shut out of the justice system are sometimes going to take out their frustration in the streets. This finding helped convince even Richard Nixon to sign legislation establishing Legal Services.
6. Gingrich is especially keen on giving away our public land resources to the mining, oil, timber and grazing interests. This month, for example, a Danish corporation used the 1872 Mining Act to take control of $1 billion worth of minerals in Idaho in return for a payment of $250 to the Department of Interior.
Earlier, a Canadian company got $8 billion worth of gold on federal land in Nevada for less than $25,000. These are minerals that belong to you. Gingrich has smashed efforts in the House to make these companies pay fair value for our resources. In return, his Party’s re-election war chests are watching avalanches of dollars pouring in from these business lobbies.
7. Gingrich’s House of Representatives passed an abolition of federal highway speed limits and exempted tens of thousands of large trucks from federal safety requirements and maximum driving time limits. If this dangerous bill becomes law, the Department of Transportation data predict over 6000 additional fatalities per year at a cost of $19 billion.
In case any of the victims’ next of kin, or injured motorists, seek their day in court against highway and auto company wrongdoers who caused their casualties, Gingrich has passed another bill that ties the hands of state judges and jurors from holding these perpetrators responsible. Corporations love that escape from responsibility and they are rewarding the Gingrich Gang’s campaign coffers generously.
President Bill Clinton can stop this cruel and vicious corporate riot on Capitol Hill with his vetos. If he does not, just call him George Ronald Clinton.