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

Obama Economic Plan:
A Cynical Attack on Workers, to Hand More to the Rich

Jan 12, 2009

Barack Obama’s economic “stimulus” plan is a big gift to corporations and a big attack on working people.

First the gift: the plan includes 300 billion dollars in new tax breaks to individuals and corporations. While he was campaigning, Obama said those individual tax breaks would only be for incomes below $200,000 per year; now, though, his office says that they haven’t decided on a cap. In other words, still more tax breaks will go to wealthy individuals. And Obama is no longer talking about immediately repealing the huge tax breaks Bush gave to the wealthy, or even letting them lapse when they are supposed to in two years. Instead, he says, a recession is not the time to cut tax breaks.

The corporate tax breaks are in addition to Bush’s tax breaks of the previous eight years; those earlier tax breaks helped to fuel the huge bubble that created the mess we’re in now. Giving those banks and corporations more money will NOT “grease the wheels” of the economy; it will just give them MORE money that they will use to speculate–creating MORE of a mess, all over again.

That’s not stopping Obama from proposing three huge new corporate tax breaks, though.

The first would allow corporations to declare losses they claimed last year AND losses they’ll claim this year, retroactively on tax returns dating back 5 years. In other words, it would amount to a huge, immediate tax refund on losses they haven’t even had yet!

The second is yet another tax break on “investments,” as if that will create new jobs. They always tell us it will–and it never does.

The third is the most cynical boondoggle of the bunch: it would give corporations 3,000 dollars for every worker they hire that they SAY they otherwise wouldn’t have hired, OR every worker they KEEP who they say they would have otherwise laid off. There’s nothing stopping corporations from declaring EVERY worker hired, and EVERY worker they don’t lay off–heck, every worker they have–and gobbling up 3,000 dollars each!

As for spending–without ever saying what or how much, Obama talks about spending on infrastructure, expanding unemployment benefits, and giving money to the states to cover Medicaid benefits. These “proposals” are a LOT more vague and undefined than his corporate tax cut proposals. They sound much more like token sound bites than anything real. The most concrete he’s gotten has been for money gifts for corporations investing in “green energy,” saying that will create jobs. We’ve seen for years just how much that DOESN’T work.

On Saturday January 10, Obama said his plan will “create or save” at least 4.1 million jobs over the next few years. Just the day before, that number was 3 million. And two days before that, it was 2 million. Nothing changed in his plan–but the “analysis” kept pushing that number up as he needed to sell his tax cuts. He might as well come out and say that his job estimates are meaningless hype. Heck, why not say 100 million–especially since every corporation can claim his tax breaks got them to “save” their whole workforce!

But whatever number he claims, even if true, that’s nothing. That 4.1 million jobs REALLY pales in comparison to the actual number of workers who are without a job or are under-employed right now: almost 21 million people.

To address real problems facing millions of working class families, Obama’s plan proposes nothing. Obama said nothing about expanding medical care for those who don’t have it; the ONLY proposal he made about medical care was to computerize all medical records within five years!

But when it comes to paying for his plans, Obama proposes–cuts in programs. Specifically, his advisors have talked–again–of going after Social Security and Medicare and other so-called “entitlements”–all the programs of the “social safety net.” Right when workers are needing it most.

Obama has said much about how Americans voted for change in November, and how we need a completely new approach to address the problems we face. But his economic plan comes down to tax breaks and money gifts to the wealthy, while making the working class pay.

It’s nothing more than another Bush proposal, made by another Clinton administration.