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

Government Shutdown:
A War on the Working Class

Oct 14, 2013

When the Republicans pushed through the supposed federal government shutdown on October 1, the Democrats were more than willing to let the Republicans take the blame.

Certainly, it wasn’t a shutdown for everyone. After all, we all had to continue to pay all the taxes to the government. And the top Democrats and Republicans continued to pay their own fat salaries and their expensive perks. But these same officials immediately cut off pay for millions of government and contract workers – with “promises” to pay it back later. And while they safeguarded the government programs that take care of the top capitalists’ needs, they slashed programs like Head Start, WIC, and Meals-on-Wheels, thus depriving millions of low-income people food, education and other forms of the measly aid that the government still provides.

In other words, the government shutdown was a naked attack against working people and the poor.

Sure, the Republicans put on an act of opposing Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare,” as they like to call it in their usual appeal to their extreme-right wing base. But the Republican Party itself, despite all the rhetoric aimed at its right-wing, really supports the ACA. Because the ACA is a vehicle to boost the profits of the big health insurance companies and medical providers.

Not surprisingly, a week into the shutdown, the Republicans switched their demands. They said they would agree to reopen the government – as long as the Democrats agreed to compromise on the government deficit. Obama and the Democrats did agree to talk about cuts, pretending that the Republicans are forcing them to negotiate more cuts.

But that too is just an act. For Obama, with the blessings of the top Congressional Democrats, has already included big cuts to Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid in the budget that he proposed last April. In other words, the Democrats have already proposed to slash the very entitlements that they said were sacrosanct.

What would make these cuts even more devastating is that they come on top of earlier cuts to social spending and public services that the Democrats and Republicans have been working together to slash for the last two years. Each time, both parties used threats of government shutdowns, debt ceilings, government defaults and sequestration as a cover for the fact that they were really working together to cut social spending for working people.

Don’t believe all the lies about how these cuts were needed to reduce the government deficit. No, they cut deeper into what the government spends on the needs of the population, in order to give more to the capitalist elite through big increases in military spending, as well as cuts to corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy.

Just last year, both parties voted to make permanent almost all of the Bush tax cuts to the rich and big companies. And now, Obama and the Republicans have also agreed to “reform” corporate taxes, which is just another way of saying cut corporate taxes even more.

All these tax cuts and subsidies for the capitalist class will pave the way for bigger deficits – which will be paid for by more cuts in social spending for working people.

The government shutdown and the cuts are just another chapter in the vicious class war that the capitalists and politicians have been waging against working people and the poor.

The working class is losing this war because too many people still believe there is nothing they can do about it.

That’s not true. Working people have the power and the numbers to turn the tables on the capitalists and their politicians. When someone decides to make a fight, their fight can then open the way for others to follow.