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broke… just to score political points.” You may recall the aforementioned Gingrich saying in September, “Think about a party whose last stand is to frighten eightyfive-year-olds, and you’ll understand how morally bankrupt the Democratic Party is and how far they’ve come from the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” Blumenthal also said: “The main Republican tactic now is to foster an atmosphere of apocalypse by raising the cry that Medicare is headed for ‘bankruptcy.’ The idea of going ‘bankrupt’ is a technical bookkeeping concept that the Republicans have suddenly transformed into a central political one. On nine occasions since 1970, the trustees of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund have declared Medicare to be approaching ‘bankruptcy’ within seven years, and each time, it has been ‘saved’ in a bipartisan manner without suffering any perceptible reductions in benefits. When the Fund’s trustees issued this year’s routine projection for bankruptcy \(in 2002, a year Republicans, who had not created a clamor over any previous projection, seized on it.” According to the Clinton administration, Medicare needs to be cut by ninety billion dollars, not two hundred seventy billion dollars. In an effort to call a cut a cut, and not a bloody shovel, let’s look at what “slowing the rate of growth” actually means in a program. The New York Times reported on October 1 that military spending was exactly the same in 1987, before the end of the Cold War, and in 1994a total of two hundred eighty-two billion dollars in both years. No cut, right? But because of inflation, two hundred eighty-two billion dollars in 1994 bought less. The number of troops has declined from 2.2 million to 1.6 million, and the number of Navy fighting ships fell from five hundred and sixty-eight to three hundred and eighty-seven. Would you call that a cut in the military? So what are the Republicans actually doing, aside from cutting Medicare so they can afford to give tax cuts to their rich friends? On October 25, Gingrich told the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Conference: round one because we don’t think that’s politically smart, and we don’t think that’s the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it.” On October 24, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole told the American Conservative Union: “I was there, fighting the fight, vot ing against Medicare, one of twelve, be cause we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” House Majority Leader Dick Armey re iterated his oft-expressed opposition to Medicare on July 11 and also said: ‘I resent the fact that when I’m sixty-five I must enroll in Medicare. I deeply and profoundly resent that. It’s an imposition on my life…. What you don’t understand is why I ain’t dumb enough to fall on my sword. We IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN Whether he meant to or not, Kermit the Frog spoke for all environmentalists when he noted: “It’s not easy being green.” And according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal it’s not even easy to know who really is green, since some of the nastiest, butt-ugliest, most ANTI-environmental interests have created front groups with names that make them appear to be totally green and 100-percent ecologically pure. For example, the “Environmental Con-, servation Organization”ECO for short is really a group of land developers. And guess who puts out the newsletter GreenSpeak, on cream-colored, recycled paper no less? The Hardwood Lumber Associationthat’s who. They’re lobbying for public subsidies to help them cut down more timber from our national forests. Then there’s the National Wilderness Instituteanother sneaky outfit. It uses a logo with the shadow of a howling wolf against the full moon. But the Institute actually is a lobby front trying to gut the Endangered Species Acta law that protects wolves. My favorite artful dodger, though, is the Abundant Wildlife Society. No, this is not a touchie-feelie group trying to protect Bambi, but a hunter’s lobbying organization that wants to exterminate wolves and other predators of such wild game as deer and elk. Not that they love deer and elk, mind youthey just think these wild critters ought to be left for human hunters to kill, not wolves. These name games would just be silly, except that these industry fronts are swarming all over Washington giving Newt Gingrich and his anti-environmental Congress a “green cover” for gutting America’s environmental protections. Don’t be fooled by their cover. No matter how “green” they seem, it’s like putting Jim Hightower is a former Observer editor and Texas Agricultural Commissioner. His daily radio commentaries are broadcast nationwide, as he continues to preach the populist gospel. have areas of public policy where you can, not have an honest debate.” Excuse me, but if the Republicans can’t be honest, I can. They are out to destroy Medicare, not save it. lipstick on a pigthey still can’t hide their ugliness. FEEDING TIME IN WASHINGTON If you ever want to see “Your Government in Action,” don’t go to the Capitol or the White House, just park and watch the comings and goings at any of several other private watering holes in Washington. You’ll see big-money lobbyists trek in and out of fundraising receptionsmorning, noon, and nighthauling bushel baskets of campaign contributions to members of Congress, expecting favorable votes from them in return. Lobbyists even have a name for this daily routine”Feeding Time” they call it. The Wall Street Journal recently tracked a day in the secret life Of our Congress, at-. tending fourteen events on a single day where lobbyists quietly fed various lawmakers a very rich diet of some six hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Six hundred and fifty thousand dollars…in just one day! Start with breakfast at the Mansion on 0 Streetomelets, pastries, soft jazz and a horde of corporate bagmen stuffing Rules Committee member Deborah Pryce of Ohio with forty thousand dollars. “It’s just our way of sending our appreciation for being able to have access [to her],” one business lobbyists explains. Great. How much “access” have you bought recently? Ah, well, on to lunch. Forty corporate donors are having tortellini with several Democratic Senators at La Colline for only five thousand dollars a plate. An organizer of this exclusive, Senatorial tete-a-tete says cryptically: “We try to do events [that are] fairly intimate, so you can discuss whatever you want.” Then the evening. One-stop shopping is available at the Capitol Hill Club, where two Republican Congressmen are being toasted on the fourth floor, three on the third and GOP Whip Tom Delay on the first floor. Another day, another six hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Hey, let’s demand campaign finance reform to stop this wholesaling of our democracy. JIM HIGHTOWER THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15