Wall Street, corporate class didn’t care about the threatened shutdown
McCarthy deserves no credit whatsoever, for avoiding a shutdown. AP photo J. Scott Applewhite.

The New York Times and other corporate media are putting forward the idea today that Republican House Speaker McCarthy is “sacrificing” himself with the short-term deal he just supported to end a government shutdown. That notion is, of course, ridiculous because it was McCarthy himself who elevated the right-wing Freedom Caucus to the point where they had unlimited leverage over him and over the entire Republican Party.

There is speculation in the media that the Democrats may have to save his Speakership in some kind of deal between Republicans and Democrats. Only Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), thus far has said that she has no plans to vote to save McCarthy who is as unreliable and untrustworthy when he makes deals as he is willing to yield control of the House to the extreme right wing of his caucus. ”We have to get to the point of extracting things from these Republicans,” she said, in exchange for any votes.

The other thing that is clear from the shutdown crisis just avoided is that Wall Street and much of the corporate class had no concern whatsoever about the impending disaster a shutdown would have been for the majority of the U.S. population. Stock prices and Dow Jones averages were totally unrattled. The denizens of the corporate headquarters of America were willing to endure long periods of austerity as long as that austerity came in the form of cuts in services for the working class and the poor. Children, in their view, can be left hungry for weeks during a shutdown. It’s no skin off their backs.

Another thing reflected in the crisis is the importance of democratizing the entire electoral process in America. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., was able to hold the entire country hostage. He represents a gerrymandered district that can only elect Republicans. Even then, in the Republican primary election that he won, only 17 percent of the eligible voters voted and only half of them backed him. So, in a gerrymandered Republican district only 8 percent of the voters, all of them who voted for a right-wing Republican, sent that person to Congress. The other 92 percent had no voice.

It clearly shows why the right-wing Republicans and the corporate class that backs them are working overtime to limit the right to vote and to foster low turnout in our elections.

So the sky didn’t fall in and the government didn’t shut down at midnight September 30, but amid the general sighs of relief, two top union leaders warn it still could.

That’s because even though Congress enacted a stop-gap spending bill for the fiscal year that began October 1, it runs only through November 17. But the Capitol chaos that surrounded it still exists, say AFSCME President Lee Saunders and Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry.

“We can breathe a sigh of relief–for now,” Saunders said in a statement.

“Once again, extremists in Congress played a dangerous game, manufacturing an unnecessary crisis that would have imposed reckless cuts to programs working families depend on every day for food, health care, child care, housing, and more.

“The Continuing Resolution passed and signed last night is just a short-term stopgap, of course. There is work to do to ensure that we don’t face another race against the clock right before the holiday season.”

“We’ve had enough of the political shell games. Real lives are at stake right now,” Henry declared. She then pointed out that lawmakers must not only decide on year-long funding for government agencies but pass a Farm Bill-which includes food stamps—and approve legislation to keep funding childcare centers.

All those measures, especially the money bills, are vehicles for more mischief by the Freedom Caucus, who have been inserting their social issues in as many as possible. And in one indication the chaos isn’t over, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., jumped up immediately after the House vote to offer his long-promised resolution to fire McCarthy as Speaker. But the lawmaker sitting in the chair, as a sub for the Speaker, ignored him.

“SEIU members are relieved House Democrats were able to rally reasonable elected leaders to keep our government operating for another 45 days. However, this temporary fix can’t be an excuse for inaction. They have to stop messing with working people and stick to the deal they agreed to earlier this year.” The Air Traffic Controllers also applauded the CR and urged lawmakers to halt the rancor and move forward.

“Every aviation safety professional is relieved that we have temporarily averted a government shutdown. However, NATCA will continue to speak with members of Congress every day to reinforce that there can be no delay in negotiating full-year appropriations legislation and long-term FAA reauthorization that can receive bipartisan and bicameral support,” said NATCA President Rich Santa. “Funding must be secured as soon as possible – not 45 days from now.”

Other worker unions breathed a sigh of relief, none more so than the largest, the Government Employees (AFGE).

“As I’ve said many times in recent days, I’ve always remained hopeful a bipartisan deal to avoid a government shutdown was possible, however unlikely it seemed at times. The costs to federal employees, to the economy, to our communities, and to the American people are simply too great,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said.

“I applaud members of Congress for listening to the voices of thousands of AFGE members across the country who have called, sent letters, held meetings, and spoken to the media about the need to prevent a disastrous shutdown and the pain it would cause working Americans.”

But he too warned, in the release just before McCarthy’s reversal: “This dysfunction has got to stop.”


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.