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News and reports

March 23, 2007 | Page 10

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Stop the New York health care cuts
No to war and occupation

Stop the New York health care cuts
By Jessica Rothenberg

NEW YORK--Tens of thousands of 1199SEIU health care workers and supporters marched and rallied in Manhattan to oppose Gov. Elliott Spitzer's budget proposal, which would cut $1.3 billion from state hospitals and nursing homes.

Spitzer's plan would freeze payments to Medicaid providers and cut funding for public hospitals, teaching hospitals, nursing homes and home-care agencies--all measures that disproportionately affect the poor, uninsured, and elderly. These cuts are in addition to President Bush's proposed $1.2 billion cut from federal funds that go the state's health care budget.

In recent weeks, Spitzer's spin doctors have focused on the budget's $10.6 million to expand medical coverage for uninsured children. But as one nurse noted, "That's literally nothing compared to what's being cut. And besides, if a kid can't get to the hospital because the local ones are closed, his insurance is pretty useless."

The proposed cuts are especially hard to swallow given that two days of spending for the war on Iraq, which amounts to roughly $1.7 billion per day, would make them unnecessary.

Some of the protesters expressed feeling betrayed by Spitzer, who is the first Democrat to be elected New York governor in more than a decade. "I truly didn't think he would do it," said a health aid from Nassau Public Hospital. "But he did--so we're just going to keep marching until he realizes what he's up against. We actually care about providing quality care to our patients, and we can't do that with all these cuts."

Participants at the demonstration were optimistic and prepared to keep fighting. In the words of one protester, "We'll keep doing this until Spitzer either comes to his senses and gets his priorities straight or just has no choice but to back down."

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No to war and occupation

NEW YORK--About 70 people attended an antiwar panel discussion March 15 at Holyrood Church in Washington Heights. The event was sponsored by the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and the Harlem Tenants Council.

Panelist Fabian Bouthillette of the New York chapter of IVAW spent the summer of 2004 stationed on a ship near Iraq. "Our presence in Iraq is what is creating the violence--immediate withdrawal is both morally and strategically the best solution," he said.

Community activist Rev. Luis Barrios of Iglesia San Romero de las Americas, added," If we're not in the business of raising consciousness, we're not going to mobilize people. If we don't mobilize people, we're not going to stop the war."

Jen Roesch, of the ISO, was the third speaker. "We have an antiwar majority now for the first time. That is a change," she said. "Now we need to figure out how to build between protests."

-- In San Francisco, about 60 students attended a panel discussion event with two members of IVAW at San Francisco State University March 14. The event was organized by Students Against War (a chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network) and was cosponsored by the General Union of Palestinian Students, Students for Social Change and the ISO.

Christie Hubbard, an ex-military musician, witnessed the events of 9/11 at the Pentagon and worked exhuming bodies from the rubble of the World Trade Center, and left the military.

Marine veteran Mike Ergo, who served two tours in Iraq, saw his friend killed during the siege of Falluja. "I've been to Iraq and some of my buddies are there, and I say we need to get out right now," he said.

John-Samuel MacKay and Michael Hoffman contributed to this report.

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