Apr 18, 2011
Fresh off a 2011 budget deal that includes cuts to almost every imaginable domestic program – to education, environment, health, transportation, everything but the military and corporations – Democrats and Republicans are already planning a much bigger set of attacks in the 2012 budget, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
The 2011 budget was six months late in passing because the Democrats didn’t want to take all the blame for the cuts back in October. Instead, they waited until after the election, when they could share blame with the Republicans.
And boy, did they cut. For all the talk about brinkmanship and almost shutting down the government, for all the talk about refusing to allow attacks on benefits, Obama and the Democrats gave up everything the Republicans had demanded and more. They had already agreed to 42 billion dollars in reductions. And then, in this latest agreement, they added another 38 billion to cut from the budget. In other words, this was the Democrats’ “compromise” – when the Republicans demanded 70 billion dollars in cuts, the Democrats gave a total of 80 billion!
The latest proposals, for the 2012 budget, are even worse – from both Democrats AND Republicans. Now they’re both targeting the big-ticket “mandates” of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
The Republican proposal, outlined by Rep. Paul Ryan, is awful. It would outright dismantle Medicare and Medicaid, while slashing Social Security – all while giving even more tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations.
Obama’s proposal, though, is also a huge attack. It also includes cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. And, while Obama did not say he would cut Social Security, he made it clear he was open to negotiating on that.
Obama did say that he wants to raise taxes on the rich. Haven’t we heard that before? He said during his 2008 election campaign that he would increase taxes on the wealthy, and he kept saying it all last fall – right up to the moment when he agreed to renew expiring “temporary” tax breaks for the wealthy. So why should we believe him now?
The “Gang of Six,” a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers, has put forth its own proposal: supposedly in the middle between the Ryan proposal and the Obama proposal.
This is all being presented as a debate between right and left. NO. A true left-wing, defending the interest of the working class, is not even represented in these proposals. Instead, we’re presented with a choice between an extreme right-wing attack and two slightly less extreme right-wing attacks – but every one of them an attack on the working class.
If ever there was a time for the government to be spending massively on social programs and jobs programs for the population, this is it, in the midst of the worst depression since the Great Depression. If ever there was a time for the government to massively take from the rich to pay for such programs, this is it.
Instead, all proposals for the budget do exactly the opposite: they continue to plan massive attacks on the working population, the poor and the elderly, to pay for massive gifts to the banks, the corporations and the wealthy.
They’re using this crisis to turn the calendar back 80 years – and take away every social safety net workers fought for in the past.
It’s time for the working class to push the clock forward.