The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Shutdown Threat:
Who ARE These Clowns?!

Oct 2, 2023

The federal government was once again saddled with the threat of a shutdown if a budget “continuing resolution” were not passed. But at the last minute, a deal was brokered.

In case you forgot, it was only four months ago that the government had its last showdown over an impending shutdown. At that time, Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached a deal that included cuts to public spending for the population in order to slide more money into the bulging bank accounts of the capitalist class.

That deal guaranteed that the government debt would continue to expand well beyond its current 31.4 trillion dollars. The centerpiece of that deal was an agreement to increase “regular” military spending at least one percent faster than the rate of inflation while cutting ordinary civilian spending—cuts to roads, water sources, dams, levees, bridges, parks, woodlands—as well as to schools, Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps).

Now, four months later, came a vote to continue this attack on working people that Democrats and Republicans voted on in June. All Democrats in Congress, and most Republicans, were very happy to continue as is. But a hard-right-wing of Republicans in the House wanted to go even farther, with even more cuts to public services. They were the ones voting against a Continuing Resolution that would keep this attack going.

And so, all sides poured forward their own versions of posturing, grandstanding, and showboating until the very last minute. McCarthy suddenly reversed himself and worked with Democrats against the right wing of his own caucus and got a deal done for a new Continuing Resolution. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, did the same in the Senate.

This new resolution funds the government for just another 45 days, through mid-November. It keeps the funding where it is, with current cuts in place, but adds a bit more for disaster relief. It was a deal that most Republicans—and Democrats—could vote for since they’d already voted for it in June.

But this means that this clown show, with threats of government shutdown, will come rolling back into town in November.

And who would be the ones to feel the immediate pain in a potential government shutdown? Certainly not any of those Congress members! And certainly not any of their corporate friends, who will continue to receive the payments on their contracts, military and otherwise.

No, the people who would feel the biggest and most immediate pain from a shutdown would be ordinary working people who rely on government money and services to survive.

Hundreds of thousands of workers would be sent home, not paid until a shutdown ends. Hundreds of thousands more would be forced to continue working as “essential workers"—without a paycheck, until the shutdown ends.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children would run out of funding within days, leaving nearly seven million mothers and children without food or medical aid. Ten thousand children would immediately lose access to Head Start programs.

This was apparently a scenario that some politicians were willing to accept if they could spin it their way for the upcoming elections. But other politicians, the more “reasonable,” saw the risk in shutting down the government. Though not as immediate OR life-threatening, definitely, corporations and banks would feel the pain from stopping an apparatus that they depend on to make and defend their profits.

So, Democrats and Republicans funded the government for another 45 days.

What kind of political system is this that can put an immediate halt to wages, services, and support needed by millions of working people—just because a group of politicians say so?! It’s certainly not a system that working people organize or control! It’s certainly not a system working people can depend on to meet our needs.

No, this latest budget shutdown circus is just the latest demonstration that working people have no interest in this system whatsoever. We need a system that will truly work for us. The only way we’ll get such a system is to build it ourselves.