[Marxism] Leaves from a debt ceiling notebook

jay rothermel jayrothermel at gmail.com
Fri Aug 5 12:19:44 MDT 2011


Whatever one might think of their strategic program and tactics [and as a
former SWPer I do have some opinions on that], the Socialist Equality Party
has produced some first-rate journalism about the debt ceiling crisis and
the bipartisan austerity consensus.  They correctly and conclusively - I
think - show that Obama did not "cave" to the Republicans; far from it: he
"got there first with the most."

To clarify my thinking I compiled in a notebook some pertinent excerpts of a
few of the articles below.



The US budget cuts and the fight for
3 August 2011

....unfolding social counterrevolution

.... ruling class responsible for the crisis is engineering a reversal of
every social reform won in the 20th century.

....agreement ....cut trillions of dollars in social spending....

....a new period of social upheaval and class struggle in the United States.

....entire political and social system in the United States is being
discredited before the eyes of the American people.
....Well before these cuts are fully implemented, the working class will
begin to fight back.

This is only the beginning.

A basic deceit .... Obama was somehow forced or duped into doing something
he did not want to do.
....Obama administration ....opportunity to pursue an ever more right-wing
policy. Obama went even further than the

Republicans when he proposed that Social Security be included ...
....administration’s lurch to the right following the 2010 mid-term
....now discover that his entire campaign was a fraud, and that he was put
into power by the same financial oligarchy that had backed Bush for the
purpose of pursuing even more right-wing, anti-working class policies.

....powerful sections of the financial and corporate elite exercise a
stranglehold over the entire political system.

....part of an international process. Obama’s budget cuts will encourage the
ruling class in every country to expand its own assault. The essential ally
of the American working class is the international working class.
.... requires the active participation of all those who agree on

the need for socialism.

The debt limit deal and the social counterrevolution in
2 August 2011

Bush and Obama bankrupted the federal government in order to bail out Wall
Street, and now the ruling class and its political servants in both parties
are carrying out a social counterrevolution to make the working class pay
the cost.

....spectacle of cynicism, manipulation and lies....putrefaction of American
democracy and the hostility of both major parties and the entire political
system to the interests of the working class....

....division of labor between Obama and the Republicans to impose austerity
measures on which both sides were agreed.

....avoid a default while using the threat of one to slash social spending
and open up a full-scale assault on social programs dating back to the

....a frontal attack on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

.... class-war measure is being implemented under conditions of a virtual
collapse in economic growth.
....economic recovery has stalled.....75 percent of Americans oppose cuts in
Medicare and large majorities support increases in taxes for the rich.

....food stamps, home heating assistance, public health, housing aid—not to
mention the basic health care and pension programs for the elderly and the
poor—are to be slashed ....
....division of labor between Obama and the Republicans to impose austerity
measures on which both sides were agreed.
....Obama played the critical role by tying an increase in the debt
ceiling....to cuts in social programs. He outflanked the Republicans from
the right by proposing reductions in Social Security as part of the fiscal
....Obama and the Democrats to drop their fig leaf of a “balanced
approach”—the closure of a few corporate tax loopholes....
....anti-working class, right-wing policy of the Obama administration....

....Tea Party Republicans....product of media promotion and cash injections
from right-wing billionaires....
.... Tea Party congressmen....became an obstacle to pushing through the deal
desired by the financial elite....pushed aside.

....No such objection [there is “no money”]  was raised when Wall Street
demanded trillions of dollars in taxpayer funds to cover its bad debts.
....financial aristocracy concentrates more of the national wealth in its
hands than ever before.
.... exploited the breakdown of its system to permanently restructure class
relations and impoverish the working class.
....utilize mass unemployment to blackmail workers into accepting wage cuts
and sweatshop conditions.

....class as the basic category of social life....
....financial panic that erupted in September 2008 was an expression of a
fundamental crisis of American and world capitalism. At the center of this
crisis was the historic decline in the global position of the United States.

....for the independent mobilization of the working class in opposition to
all cuts and all attacks on living standards.
....nationalization of the major corporations and banks under the democratic
control of the working class to provide jobs, decent wages, housing,
education and a secure retirement for all.
....social struggles will break out....directly pit the working class
against the government.
....critical issue is the building of a revolutionary leadership to provide
a socialist perspective and program to unite and guide these struggles
toward the establishment of a workers’ government.


The American “left” and the debt ceiling
By David Walsh
4 August 2011

....While criticizing Obama for “capitulating” to the Republican right, both
the Nation and the ISO hold out hope, explicitly or implicitly, for the
“progressive” wing of the Democratic Party.
What worries these pseudo-left elements.....policies of the Obama
administration, along with congressional acquiescence, will weaken the hold
of the Democratic Party on the working class.... to mass struggles against
the status quo.
....myth that the Democrats’ “Progressive Caucus” in Congress opposed the
assault on social programs and acted in a principled manner.

....Obama took the occasion of the debt ceiling stalemate....to initiate
savage spending cuts.
....entire Progressive Caucus voted July 30 for the plan put forward by Sen.
Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader, which also called
for trillions in spending cuts.
....Dennis Kucinich, Raúl Grijalva, Barbara Lee and the rest said “Yes” to
this massive slashing of entitlement programs.
....Reid plan....was as retrograde and cruel as the final deal.
[What House Democrat leadership told its members, though not in these
words]: ....“Listen, I understand that some of you, in order to salvage your
political reputations, will have to vote against the debt ceiling deal and
its budget cutting. That’s fine. In fact, it is desirable. Your vote will
provide the party as a whole some badly needed credibility. In any case, it
is entirely safe. We know that there are plenty of votes for the deal and it
will pass. So, go ahead, make your little protest, it will help all of us.”
....ISO’s version .... “Many liberals were aghast at Obama’s deal with the
Republicans. Some 95 House Democrats, half the total who voted, rejected the
deal in an August 1 vote because it went too far” … and left it at that.
....Scores of Democrats....wanted to make sure, in fact, that the measure
would pass before offering their empty protest.
Congressional Progressive Caucus....exposed in this crisis as a fraud....
....hey voted en masse for the Reid plan, which included enormous cuts to
social programs.
....Democrats held the key....and the plan that passed was a declaration of
war against the working population. What conclusion should be drawn from

.... political charlatans at the ISO....one of those forces creating
expectations in Obama less than three years ago, insisting that “the scale
of the problems and questions the U.S. faces … is driving Obama toward a
different [i.e., progressive] agenda.”
....ISO is essentially mourning for lost illusions in the Democratic Party,
the center of its political universe.
....Greens, the Ralph Nader campaign or something similar....operates within
the overall dominance of the Democratic Party.
[ISO says]....“The formation of a new political party isn’t on the agenda.”
....John Nichols of the Nation....find a silver lining in every political
....Nation and ISO....discomfited at present because the debt ceiling crisis
and the brutal spending cuts campaigned for by Obama leave them discredited
along with that party.

....present situation will also clear up a great many misconceptions about
the political system in the US. It inevitably sets the stage for enormous
social struggles in the US.



Jay Rothermel

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