The Spark

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

The real State of the Union:
Republicans and Democrats unite against the working class

Feb 13, 2006

Today, the Democrats, as well as more and more Republicans, blame Bush for his deeply unpopular policies: the bloody war in Iraq, the disastrous government response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, government wiretaps and outrageous energy prices. Bush deserves every bit of the blame. But so do those same Democratic and Republican politicians, who gave Bush the votes he needed.

The Democrats may throw up their arms pretending they can’t stop Bush because they are a minority in Congress. But in Bush’s first term, when they were a majority in the Senate, they didn’t stop him either. Besides, a minority party can always block programs – as Republicans did during Clinton’s first term when the Democrats had a majority in the Congress. But the Democrats didn’t, not once. They just posed as an opposition. Besides, many times the Democrats voted with Bush – as they continue to do today on the war or the U.S. Patriot Act or extending corporate tax breaks.

Even now, while many Republicans and the Democratic Party strongly criticize the Bush administration, they continue to pass Bush’s agenda. The day after Bush’s State of the Union speech in early February, Congress passed 40 billion dollars in new cuts to social programs. The young have been hit hard. Congress severely reduced Medicaid benefits to 28 million children. The elderly are not spared either. Congress made it harder for retirees to get any help when they are forced into long-term medical care. Working people who are completely disabled now face delays up to a year to get Social Security (SSI). Big cuts in funding for student loans and grants make it more difficult and expensive for people from working class backgrounds to go to college. And Congress pushed millions of the so-called “working poor” from programs that supplement their wages. These cuts add to the growing reservoir of outright misery that stalks the big cities and countryside.

Such cuts are nothing new. They started almost three decades ago, when Congress reduced unemployment coverage from 65 to 39 weeks. The Democratic Party controlled Congress and Democrat Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Since then, no matter which party was in power, the big social programs have been cut over and over again.

Look at what both parties did to nursing home care for working people over the years. Two decades ago, Medicare and Medicaid provided enough coverage when someone from the working class was forced into a nursing home for many months. Today, nursing home care often eats up all savings and spells destitution for the whole family.

What used to be called a “safety net” for people most in need has been smashed to smithereens. And the entitlement programs – which used to give somewhat adequate protection to working people when they retired or were hit by layoffs, accidents or illness – have been shredded.

Both parties are henchmen of the bourgeoisie in its attacks against the working class.

Waiting on the promises of either of these parties to defend us is like waiting for a bus that never comes. It’s through our own struggles that we will throw these attacks back – strikes in the workplace, demonstrations in the streets and all the other means of organizing that working people have when they decide to act.