|Obama and Boehner: "We'll work it out"|
Obama is "showing new flexibility" in the discussions over what the mass media terms, the "Fiscal Cliff.", automatic cuts in spending and tax increases that will kick in at the end of this year if the politicians can't cut a deal. The failure to act so far has investors in a frenzy as the coupon clippers hate uncertainty and are refusing to invest threatening economic growth. The two sides have no disagreements over the fundamentals, that workers and the middle class will pay for the crisis of capitalism. The differences are over the details with Republicans generally opposing taxes on higher earners and corporations and the Democrats claiming the mantle of party of the people by publicly calling for the defense of cuts in entitlements like Medicare and Social Security for example.
The Great Recession has cut in to revenue as the US taxpayer apart from bailing out the system, is paying for predatory wars and the hundreds of global military installations that accompany them. Presently, the US national debt stands at about $16.28 trillion or about 100% GDP.
"I am ready and able and willing and excited to go ahead and get this issue resolved in a bi-partisan fashion....." says President Obama. "Ready, able, willing and excited" all at once is quite a condition to be in I must say. If the Democrats were actually a party that had the material interests of workers and the middle class at heart, it would not be likely they would be able to get any issue resolved with voluntary cooperation from their Republican counterparts. When two forces with equal rights meet in the world's marketplace, force decides.
The Republicans favor cuts as opposed to tax increases. If they are forced to accept some form of tax policy they would rather it be curbs on deductions and will swap that for a deal on cuts in spending. The reason for this of course is that the rich can always find a way out of that, a way to hide income from the taxman. (see Not another Tax Reform Act, on this blog) or find deductions that work.
The Obama Administration wants to raise taxes on household income above $250,000 and leave other rates as they are. The tax rate on earned income between $250,000 and $388,000 is presently 33%. Above this amount the rate rises to 35%. The Clinton Administration rates were 36% and 39.6% respectively. Obama's "flexibility" amounts to increasing the tax rates above current levels but below Clinton's. That's above 33% but below 36% for households earning above $250,000 and above 35% but below 39.6% for levels above that. No class warfare there I would say; and it's no wonder the Republicans have shown a willingness to make a deal as long as they get their curbs on deductions which are not curbs at all.
One Republican says that they'll accept a deal that raised rates on those earning $500,000 to $1 million as long as their Democratic friends "back substantial entitlement cuts.". So the options for us are really cuts as the rich will make it work. The reality is that the US working class has no political party and therefore no representation at all in these discussions. Two groups of millionaires/billionaires are determining the fate of 300 million people, mostly workers.
|The liberals never give up hoping|
The CEO's, as they always do, floated the threat of shifting production overseas if the business environment in the US isn't made more favorable, more competitive and profit friendly. They'll move fewer jobs offshore with a "more competitive corporate tax structure.", they told President Obama.
Lower taxes, no Unions, removal of all obstacles to profit taking---this is what they want, a sort of "Full Spectrum Dominance" for the USA. (The bosses are so aggressive and overconfident, even passive Unions and cooperative officials are not enough),
The capitalist offensive has not abated with the election of Obama. Obama has been able to appease the coupon clippers with somewhat less aggravation than George W Bush would face. It is also not so easy to accuse him of supporting or introducing policies that are racist which are inevitable in a system that has inequality, racism and sexism built in to it.
This responsibility for this dismal state of affairs in electoral politics in the US, where workers have no choice but one of two political parties that represent hostile class interests, falls squarely on the shoulders of the leaders of the workers' organizations. They have tremendous resources at their command, financial, structural and in terms of human resources. Yet they offer these resources to the Democratic Party in the hopes that they will receive some crumbs from the bosses' table. As we have explained many times this has led to the incorrect view among millions of workers that all politics is bad as are all politicians. Politicians are all corrupt workers say as opposed to recognizing that political parties represent forces in society, have a social base. They do what they do as a consequence of the class whose interests they represent.
Consequently, some 90 million Americans refuse to participate in what they see as a fruitless effort at the polls. The Union hierarchy hopes and would be content with gaining millions of the lowest paid workers in order to maintain revenue and keep what they see as a business afloat. Meanwhile they cooperate with the same bosses in driving down wages at the higher end as well as willingly eliminating safety protections and union rights on the job that are impediments to competitiveness and profit making. Overall, they accept that what took us a couple of centuries to win through heroic sacrifice and struggle can be no more.
The left too must reflect on our failures. In some urban areas like the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, LA, New York City etc., there must be thousands upon thousands of individuals, socialists and other activists who have an anti-capitalist bent or simply want to confront this offensive of capital. The left, with its tradition of sectarianism, its common failure to tap in to the mood that exists in society which tends to isolate it from the mass of workers in one way or another raising demands that do not connect, or making concessions that are seen as opportunist, has failed to offer a alternative to workers in the electoral arena. A united front campaign------- running candidates on a platform that genuinely confronts the capitalist offensive, make the rich pay, against austerity, cuts in public services, education, and for jobs, a $15 per hour minimum wage, mass transit, an end to all wars (that are extremely unpopular and are only tolerated as a small percentage of US families bear the brunt of the physical and psychological sacrifice this entails)------this would have a tremendous effect and would bring far more results than the "lesser of two evils" philosophy as the strategists of capital would throw reforms at such a movement to head it off, derail it. It always pays to fight.
Such a campaign, linked to direct action tactics on the ground, would transform the balance of forces and inspire millions of workers. It would influence the struggle inside of organized Labor and give the left a credibility it has failed to achieve so far while at the same time laying the basis for the formation of a genuine independent mass working people's political party. Threats to shut production destroying communities while they move to exploit workers in countries like Bangladesh where more than 100 of our brothers and sisters recently died in a factory fire, can be met with occupations and through an independent political alternative, the taking in to public ownership of the firms concerned, with compensation based on proven need.
The stage is already being set for the next election. They start campaigning two years before. The Democratic Party candidate will be Hilary Clinton who is leaving her position as secretary of state to prepare. Are we going to have no real choice yet again?