More Money for the Rich, More Cuts for the Workers

Just before the Christmas holiday break, Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that continued the usual pattern: more money for the wealthy, austerity for the working class, and about half of the cash to the military. This reflects the present situation of American and world capitalism—a crisis-ridden system that must take back past progressive reforms and build up its military to battle the growth of revolutionary movements and the general upheaval in the ex-colonial world.  We must remember that right now, the US economy is growing, but not in a manner to make up for the decline of the 2008 slump. There are dark clouds on the horizon.  China is slowing down and Europe and Japan seem to be in a second slump or “double dip.”

budget2015The deal on the spending bill was made between President Obama, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker John Boehner. In the complex world that is capitalist America, their government first passes budget resolutions, then spending authorizations, and finally, appropriates the money which can then be spent.  These bills, which become law once signed by the president, are also packed with “riders.” These “riders” may have nothing to do with the original bill, but are added to the bill to gain the votes of various senators and congresspeople. In the real world, this would be considered a form of bribery or payment for votes. Coincidentally, this bill allows individuals (rich ones, of course!) to make larger contributions to the Republican and Democratic parties.

In contrast to the imaginary world of the American libertarians, who view Jeffersonian America as some perfect world, various capitalist interests have always seen their government as a cash cow, to milk whenever they have access. Political access must always come at a price. American-style democracy is bourgeois democracy: more one dollar, one vote than one person, one vote.

Some tax loopholes were set to expire in 2014, since Congress had not renewed them. If Congress had renewed them after January 1, 2015 had arrived, those wealthy beneficiaries would have lost out on their 2014 tax returns, so these needed to be attached to this spending bill to ensure that this would not happen. Our readers can sleep well knowing that the health insurance industry tax breaks were also renewed. Former Majority Leader Reid, from Nevada, also made sure that federal money would support the tourist industry in Las Vegas, a city whose main industry is in trouble, as the gambling business is spreading and is no longer unique to Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

The New York Times reported the following about this bill on December 14, 2014:  “It allows certain multi-employer pension plans to shore up their finances by cutting retirees’ benefits. And it reduces the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies out of favor with Republicans.”

This means many retirees, having received their promised pension after working many years and being exploited by the capitalists, will now see their pensions cut. The cut in the EPA ensures that some regulations meant to protect the environment will go unenforced. We know it is cheaper for a business to just dump its waste than to pay for it to be carefully and safely disposed of, so if they are unlikely to get caught when they break the law, how many of them will follow the rules?

The same article continues: “But Democrats staved off deep cuts to many of their favorite health and education programs.”  If the Democrats “staved off deep cuts,” then they accepted “less deep” cuts. These cuts are happening when the economy is growing and are on top of the sequester and other cuts that we have suffered since 2008. If they cannot increase spending on education and social programs now, when will this happen? Under the crisis-ridden capitalist system, the answer is never.

Another crisis in the making

World capitalism is in a historic crisis.  Capitalism’s tendency to overproduction eventually leads to economic, social and political crisis. The roots in the recent crisis go back to the end of the post-World War II boom in the middle 1970s. Capitalism greatly expanded credit and various speculatory financial ventures. This came apart in 2008, but big business politicians said they would fix things so it would not happen again.

In the US, they said that people would only be able to secure mortgages for property with 20% down. Now, due to the fact that real estate prices have not picked up enough, they are again allowing people to get mortgages with only 3% down. Nothing to worry about, property prices will always go up, never down!

In addition to this, they had passed Dodd-Frank, a law intended to partially regulate the banks’ more extreme speculative investments. This new spending bill waters down some of these regulations, thus allowing the big banks to get back to massive speculation in the derivatives market.

This should show well-meaning people that regulating capitalism is impossible. As long as capitalism exists, it will continue to head to crisis and bring humanity down with it. The only hope is for a workers’ government to transform the profit system to a society that produces for human wants and needs in a democratic manner.

Battles among the Democrats

This spending deal has seen battles among the Democrats. In the House, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi opposed Obama, Reid, and this bill, along with all but 57 of the House Democrats. In the Senate, Democrat Elizabeth Warren and a few other Democrats were opposed to the changes to Dodd-Frank. It is likely there will be growing divisions among the Democrats as time goes on. American society is polarizing as the class struggle gets more intense. This will also be reflected in the two parties of the big business.

The Republicans have a traditional conservative wing, and the even further-to-the-right Tea Party and Christian Right wings. The Democrats have different wings as well. In times of crisis, these wings fight over what is the best way out. It has to be clearly understood, however, that the Warren/Pelosi wing bases themselves on the capitalist system. They might want to try to regulate or reform it, but they do not want to change it and they are prisoners of this system. If the Socialist Party leaders in Greece and France give in to the power of capital, certainly bourgeois politicians are not going to resist these powers any better.

Labor leaders offer no plan of resistance

The one force that can battle capital and win is the working class. Nothing is manufactured, moved, or constructed without the working class. The working class makes up the overwhelming majority of this country’s population. However, the leadership of the working class accepts capitalism rather than fighting it. This must stop!

We call on the labor leaders to mobilize the membership to:

Break from the Democrats, build a mass labor party, and run workers in future elections. If they get elected, they should pledge to accept the salary of an average worker and donate the rest to the movement.

Elect a workers’ government that will nationalize the top 500 corporations, including the big banks and finance companies, to be run under democratic workers’ control and management

End austerity, fight against all cuts in pensions and social security benefits, launch a jobs program to ensure full employment, provide a national health care system free at the point of service, higher wages, free education, and a 30-hour work week for 40 hours pay.

Join us to fight for these demands!

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