by The Spark
As the US government shutdown enters its third week, almost a million workers have been sent home or are working without a paycheck. “Essential employees” – about 420,000 – are working without pay. Another 380,000 have been placed on unpaid leave. Millions more may be impacted as “business as usual” grinds to a halt in sectors touched by the shutdown.
The Congress, on a long weekend break, continues to be paid. In fact, top government officials will be given a ten thousand dollar a year raise in pay, which was not automatically frozen. This on top of six figure salaries and matching perks: limos, expense accounts, etc.
The president is, as usual, front and center in this mess. Funding “The Wall” to the tune of (US)5.6 billion tax dollars has become his number one campaign promise to his most reactionary base. He is glued to it as the most valuable jewel in his 2020 election arsenal.
The Democrats, newly in the majority in Congress, don’t want to give Trump any victories, but they have no issue with increased expenditures for all kinds of border “security.”
And while the new Hollywood that is Washington goes on with its drama, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are trying to figure out how to make ends meet.
The two parties don’t care because they have already agreed on the parts of the budget that serve the capitalists. After all, almost seventy-five percent of the budget has already been finished and passed. The debt repayments created by the 2008 bailout to banks and corporations, the huge amounts of money that go to war, to war contractors, to other huge corporations have already been signed and delivered. All the big players, all the pigs at the trough, have been paid or have new contracts.
Both parties have agreed to what they call a zero sum balance process. That means that any increase in the budget anywhere has to be offset by a cut somewhere else. This budget already represents a massive attack against the working class. With the working class surviving at a standard of living that is still, in 2019, lower than it was in the 1970s, the budget proposal itself is a proposal for continuing concessions and austerity, continuing attacks on social services, Social Security, education: all of the services that the government provides out of tax dollars for the population.
No Democrat is proposing to take back the huge tax bailouts to corporations. No one is proposing to “claw back” the tax breaks that will result in trillions of dollars that will NOT be paid into the budget by the corporations over the coming years. The huge debt owed by the federal government will be put on the backs of the working class. Both parties have made that clear by failing to go after the real perpetrators of the debt crisis.
The very fact that the Democrat-controlled House voted to accept final bills composed by the Republican-controlled Senate, lets us know that. And in fact, the proposed budget is not a budget that Donald Trump disagrees with: he is just grandstanding for his Wall.
The federal workers are directly under attack by the current shutdown, along with the recipients of public aid. But the entire working class is targeted for more cuts well into the future.
We can assume that any penny they can take from us to give to Wall Street speculation, they will. We might as well face the enemy squarely and kick its middlemen and women to the side.
A real fight could start with the federal workers under attack today, and spread to other sections of the working class who are fed up and have had enough. That is how workers build their own real fighting organizations – through struggles they organize and lead themselves.
The article above is the editorial from the current (January 7-21) issue of the US Marxist publication The Spark. See here.