Debt-ceiling disaster postponed - but not for long


Many details of the debt ceiling deal negotiated between congressional leaders and President Obama are not yet known. It's not yet known if the deal will pass both the House and the Senate. However, the reported outlines indicate that the president and Democrats were successful in defeating Republican proposals to tie the whole country up in chaos re-debating raising the debt ceiling continuously through the 2012 election. Thanks in large part to the stiff backbone of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Social Security remains untouched. The threat of economic catastrophe from a default on U.S. debt and other obligations was averted, but it is not clear if the perilous political gridlock - and growing U.S. instability - surrounding this entire charade will still result in a downgrade of U.S. Treasury securities.

The budget cuts reportedly included in the deal appear to be, thankfully, heavily weighted towards cuts in the military as wars in Afghanistan and Iraq "draw down." This is a sign that the economic crisis has finally helped force a long overdue retrenchment in the U.S. global military profile.

But there are many other as yet unspecified cuts that will result in thousands more layoffs from federal, state and local public services for working people.

One that has been specified: There will be cuts in Medicare, although the details are not available. African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, the working poor, women and youth, seniors, all public workers and those they serve will be hit particularly hard. The recent Pew Research Foundation report on racial and ethnic inequality shows that, since the onset of the depression, minorities, for example, have virtually NO wealth with which to protect themselves against a medical or any other calamity. Instead of cuts in Medicare, the path forward is Medicare for ALL.

Further, the bill establishes "commissions" and "triggers" to force trillions more in cuts and layoffs down the road. Imminent disaster has been averted, but we must conclude that austerity politics and economics - the idea that one can fix recessions or depressions by laying off more people - have won the day. Working people will lose MORE ground. The rich will pay nothing towards the debt.

The showdown over the debt ceiling has proven one thing beyond doubt: The Republicans and their rich friends care NOTHING about debt. Their speeches and harangues on debt are lies through and through. They care only about THEIR taxes. Actually, they have one additional, overriding concern: to divert absolutely as much public capital as possible to private use.

Democratic government is the only real means working people have to contend with the power of wealth and the giant corporations. Only government has the power to redistribute wealth from these forces in accord with any principle of fairness or justice. The Republican goal: Destroy this power, make public services and investments so small they can, in the words of the scoundrel Grover Norquist, "be drowned in their bathwater."

Recent economic reports show the economy is either a) sliding into another recession - the "double dip" - or b) entering a decades-long era of stagnation and permanent high unemployment, declining incomes for workers, and expanding inequality. Nothing in the debt-ceiling deal will do anything about this. More jobs will be lost as a result, not gained.

It is no doubt true that a Democratic president and Senate prevented a much worse outcome than the current deal. Many have criticized the president for being too soft and weak in negotiations with the Republicans. I had nearly 20 years' experience in the labor movement which proved to me it's hard to judge from the outside what is really possible, and what is not, in such bargaining. The balance of forces is hard to evaluate if you are not at the table. Maybe the president gave too much, maybe this is the best outcome possible to avert disaster for now.

But the point is: We the people are not at the table!

An old trade union mentor in West Coast longshore once told me: "When the working class sneezes in unison, the temples of Wall Street tremble!"

We have our work cut out for us as we enter the 2012 election, the most momentous election since 1936. The multitudes must speak for themselves to defeat war and austerity, to turn around toward peace, and prosperity.

Photo:Protesting Todd Akin's stand on debt ceiling.



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  • The money the large corporations recieve from the government, is money spent by the government. The speaker was supposed to reduce spending and every thing was supposed to be on the table. The reductions in medicare are reductions I am still paying for with monthly deductions for medicare, from my SS check. I am being taxed. The Speaker said there will be no tax increase. The places the speaker is reducing spending are losing workers, which is reducing spending in the sconomy, which is reducing money in circulation, which is reducing purchasing of goods and services, which is reducing income to businesses and services, which is causing lay offs by employers, which is reducing tax income, which is reducing federal income, etc. This is a continuing downward spiral.

    Posted by Max Rader, 08/07/2011 6:22pm (4 years ago)

  • Russia, October 1917; or Germany, February 1933?

    President Obama did not keep things from getting worse by appeasing the Corporation-Teafascists by continually retreating before their ever-increasing demands, any more than Neville Chamberlain brought "peace in our time" back from Munich in September 1938. What they each did was prove that the capitalist "democracies" will invariably betray their presumed allies to the fascists, for the sake of their own gain. Lenin said that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. We should also understand that fascism is the highest stage of imperialism. With the Munich Pact, western Europe left Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Soviet Russia to the none-too-tender "mercies" of Nazi Germany. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-aggression Pact, a direct result of the Munich Pact, bought the Soviet Union a few months of peace to build her defenses while the Nazis turned their aggressive attentions to the Munich Pact cosignatory friends Britain and France. The "Unified Front" failed in Spain in 1936. It failed in Europe in 1938-39. It is failing now.

    President Obama and the Democrats are bought and paid for by the corporations. Like F.D.R. did in the 1930s, Obama and the Democrats today, too, are throwing the occasional well-chewed meatless bone to the people to try to keep us believing that we NEED big business and the wealthy if we are to have anything at all. We should be getting tired of having to choose between the "lesser of two evils". It does not work; it only gets worse. Are we to wait until after the fascists burn down the Reichstag -- or subvert Congress -- and blame it on "liberals", "Socialists" and Communists before saying "Enough!" What we do NOT need is Trotskyism and utopian socialism. What we DO need are real leaders, Communists, to fight for the people, to defend the real proletariat against the Corporate-Tea-fascist Lumpenproletariat and their corporate big bourgeoisie masters. The budget-vote debacle should be understood as a Reichstag fire moment for us. The Corporate fascists will stop at nothing to establish total control over the U.S. and the world and the annihilation of all of their real and perceived opponents. Capitalism is not the friend of the people, much as F.D.R. or Obama might want people to think it is. The real difference between the GOP-TeaParty and the Democrats is not one of degree, but one of tactics; the GOP-TeaParty will give everything to their corporate masters and nothing to the people; the Democrats will give left-over scraps from the tables of the corporate masters to the people, to try to keep us acquiescent and preoccupied. Now consider this: the October Revolution was not made by the Kadets or by Kerensky and their petit-bourgeois parliamentarians. It was made by the workers, soldiers and sailors of the Red Guards under the leadership of Lenin. Revolution is the solution! Forward to Communism!

    Posted by Irving, 08/07/2011 10:54am (4 years ago)

  • The problem is NOT that the president "was weak!" It is that he & his handlers made the conscious decision to set up the extra-legal Commissions, which literally gave the right/corporations the complete economic/political highground, credibility in the national arena. Not only did he set those commissions, on the enemies issues (lowering corporate taxes & so-called "fiscal responsibility) but he went on to appoint our worst enemies to head them. He appointed the head of GE, which paid NO taxes last year & has a notorious anti-labor record was appointed head of the one and folks like the anti-labor Alan Simpson was co-chair of the Fiscal Commission.

    Obama was not "caught in a difficult position." He put himself, the Democratic Party and all people's movements in a hole of his own making. He is President, and had no responsibility to set up any extraordinary commissions. However, if he was going to set one up, he could have set it up as a commission on Jobs & Relief, rather than on the enemies issues. This would've set the natl. agenda differently and forced the right to make their arguments on why cutting the debt would create jobs (our issue).

    We must move toward helping labor set up an independent political movement that can represent the positions of org'd labor, the people, nationally and can mobilize our people to fight. Without this, we are left to attempt to defend the absolutely indefensible. Without this independent movement, there is nobody speaking for the people.

    Obama has actually, finally become the "transformative president" that some thought he could be. Unfortunately, without the pressure org'd from labor & the people, the "transformation" is going to be the near destruction of the Democratic Party as an effective party on the natl. level, as well as assuring the ongoing rule of the worst, most right wing elements of the corporate ruling class!

    Posted by, 08/02/2011 5:37pm (4 years ago)

  • Don't you have any idea how absurd you seem with this attempt to make Obama other than what he is? Namely, Bush 44?

    Posted by Louis Proyect, 08/02/2011 4:00pm (4 years ago)

  • John case has done well in the article,the first few lines
    could have been redone,since it is datelined Aug 1.
    Good,that the senate passed it with 74:26, and in the house,of the 193 dems atleast 98 opted not to vote due its inability to tax therich,isgreatstepforward.Democrat Obama's ," surrender" is not to the republican right,but
    to their number 240 in the house. The number is that high because a section of left stayed home unhappy with Obama's "compromises". This is what republicans
    plan and publicise,so as to fool a section of us from the
    extreme angle. Big Buisness press Shows Obama as
    compromising with the right only to break them off their
    main coalition partners,or at least to demoralise them to a neutrality. Some of them are using even our paper in their comments to propagate ultraleft angle as their
    "comments". Those who do so innocently should be ware.Widen the Change- coalition is the only way to a sure success, for the real Left. Rama Kant Sharma

    Posted by RAMA KANT SHARMA, 08/02/2011 3:01pm (4 years ago)

  • "It is no doubt true that a Democratic president and Senate prevented a much worse outcome than the current deal."


    Posted by will shetterly, 08/02/2011 2:14pm (4 years ago)

  • t is not clear if the perilous political gridlock - and growing U.S. instability - surrounding this entire charade will still result in a downgrade of U.S. Treasury securities. ///// thus paying more interest per dollar borrowed to Wall Street. Moody's has a lot of nerve claiming the US government which bailed out Wall Street is a less reliable "debtor" on its those "debts" to Wall Street.

    Posted by Charles, 08/02/2011 12:01pm (4 years ago)

  • I am in agreement with will pulling out of Iraq.

    However, we are miles apart on many other points of your article.

    Posted by Eric Smith, 08/01/2011 3:54pm (4 years ago)

  • Get real. This is not happening because Obama is "soft and weak" toward the GOP. This is happening because he *agrees* with them that society's losers (us) should pay, so that society's winners don't have to.

    With friends like Obummer, working class Americans don't need enemies. And forget 2012. I'd rather swandive into a woodchipper than vote for him again.

    Posted by Trailer Trash, 08/01/2011 1:42pm (4 years ago)

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