Assault on US workers’ rights accelerates

Published on WSWS, by Jerery White, May 5, 2011.

The White House is set to begin a series of formal talks today with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on the 2012 federal budget. It is already clear that the Obama administration’s proposal for reducing the budget by $4 trillion over the next 12 years is only the starting point for far deeper cuts, which will be worked out under the pretext of avoiding a government default.

In a statement Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) said there was bipartisan support to reach a budget agreement before a vote on increasing the debt ceiling. He made it clear, however, that far more savage cuts were necessary. “[I]t is my hope that there will be a new urgency from the White House and our friends across the aisle to finding solutions to what we all know must be done,” McConnell said in a statement.

Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget cuts billions from public education, transportation, infrastructure, federal pensions, housing, Pell grants and aid to states and cities that are already slashing their budgets. It proposes cost savings by getting rid of “excessive and unnecessary Medicare cost growth” and rewards states for streamlining Medicaid. It also establishes a trigger for across-the-board cuts if the federal budget deficit does not hit a targeted debt-to-GDP ratio by 2014.

This is only a down payment. The Democrats are using Republican proposals to destroy Medicare and Medicaid as a foil in order to posture as more humane budget-cutters. They are preparing to accept a “compromise” to slash entitlement programs and other vital services, while continuing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

With popular opposition to budget cuts growing across the country, Republicans and Democrats at the state level are accelerating anti-strike laws and other anti-democratic measures aimed at criminalizing any collective resistance by workers.

In the past few weeks, such bills have been passed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. Similar legislation is pending in nearly every state. Nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some 744 bills have been introduced to attack public employee wages, benefits and collective bargaining rights … //

… The entire framework of the budget debate and the claims that there is not enough money for essential services must be rejected. There are ample resources, but they are monopolized by the financial elite, which rules America and controls both political parties.

A mass political movement of the working class must be built to break the grip of the financial aristocracy, carry out a radical redistribution of wealth and reorganize the economy, along socialist lines, to guarantee the social rights of all working people to a decent paying and secure job, health care, education, housing and retirement. (full long text).

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