Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Congressman and House Republican Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam made a triumphant statement applauding the House Republican passed budget March 29. Offering no specifics, he said it will eliminate saddling future generations with crushing debt, preserve and strengthen Medicare and other safety net programs, and fundamentally reinvigorate the economy with pro-growth tax reform.

President Obama has rightly called the Roskam budget a Trojan House, disguised as a deficit reduction plan, but actually a radical vision for our country that is nothing but thinly veiled Social Darwinism. In other words, "We the rich have ours, sorry about your misfortune all the rest of you".

Unlike Roskam, the President offered specifics that will never appear in Roskam's rosy pronouncements.

In 2014, nearly 10 million college students will see their financial aid cut by an average of more than $1,000 each

There will be 4,000 fewer research grants, eliminating 48,000 researchers, teachers and students

Clean energy technologies will lose 20% of their funding

Head start will cut 200,000 children from this critically needed program

Two million mothers and children will lose access to healthy food

The Department of Justice loses 4,500 grants needed to combat violent and financial crime, and help secure our border

Hundreds of national parks would be partially or completely closed

Cuts to the EPA will reduce enforcement of laws that give us clean water, fresh air and healthy food

Air traffic control cuts will increase flight cancellations and delays, and eliminate all service to some parts of the country

Fewer satellite launches will degrade weather forecast accuracy and likely delay evacuation orders during hurricanes

Then there is health care

Research for Alzheimer's, cancer and AIDS will lose 1,600 grants

Medicaid is to be turned over to the states at a time when Medicaid itself will face its largest cut ever proposed - one that will take away health care for 19 million Americans

Medicare will be ended as we know it. A decade from now seniors turning 65 will get, voila... a voucher, equal to the cost of the second cheapest private health care plan in their area. And if health care costs rise faster than the cost of that voucher, voila again... it's too bad for you Mr. & Mrs Senior. Roskam is OK with this because all increases in health care costs will be shifted from Uncle Sam to the aforementioned seniors, fulfilling his prediction of less government debt. Pretty slick, Mr. Congressman.

The harm these draconian cuts do to the common good is compounded by the fact that they are served up to pay for 4.6 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade; tax cuts for the wealthy that come on top of more than a trillion dollars in current tax giveaways to the privileged making over $250,000 a year. That is not chump change to a millionaire; it is actually at least $150,000 for every one of them. Roskam's radical Republican caucus has promised tax reform composed of closing tax loopholes and wasteful deductions. But that same caucus has failed to list a single loophole or wasteful deduction they are willing to close. Maybe its the infamous Grover Norquist oath to never eliminate a single tax break that has paralyzed them.

In spite of Roskam's optimism, his budget, or more appropriately, his Trojan Horse, has about as much chance of finishing first as a wooden Trojan House being pulled by a thousand rope bearers. It's all show and no horsepower. But as long as the Congressman wants to ride it to victory in November, it needs a good name. How about "Reverse Robin Hood"?

Sunday, April 01, 2012


It's been 34 days since George Zimmerman fired a bullet into Trayvon Martin's chest ending his life. Thousands of folks in Sanford, FL and tens of millions more around the country are demanding not vengence, but simple justice be given to the Martin family, and by extension to all Americans, so there can be closure that the scales of justice are balanced. The controversy rages because of the belief that there was an instant "white skin" acquittal at the police station for Zimmerman who was released without charges under circumstances that defy credullity.

But its been 3,000 days since a punch that may have been thrown by Mayor Daley nephew Richard J. Vanecko sent a much smaller man to the pavement causing injuries that ended his life 11 days later. A controversy doesn't quite rage but it continues to smolder here in Chicago that Vanecko may have been given an instant "Chicago clout" acquittal by police investigating the incident. Like Sanford police, the actions of the Chicago police both during the so called investigation and for 3,000 days since, strain credulity.

The Martin family has Rev. Al and Rev. Jackson and millions more keeping their hopes for justice alive. David Koschman's mother Nanci has just a few dogged reporters and a newspaper that is fullfilling the highest ideals of good journalism keeping her hopes alive.

Next Friday Cook County judge Michael Toomin will issue his decision whether a special prosecutor will be named to investigate Nanci Koschman's claim that a police coverup prevented justice for David.

We don't know what a full and fair investigation will determine in either case. But the Martin family waited less than 30 days to know that their answer with be forthcoming with Governor Rick Scott's appointment of a special prosecutor. It's been 3,000 days and Nanci Koschman is still waiting for her's.