Another huge fraud is being perpetrated so the rich can get their way. Their weapon is fear. The corporate media are full of pundits explaining the government must cut the national budget or everything will collapse.
And how must it be cut? By going after Social Security and Medicare, first and foremost. In other words, squeeze the elderly and the sick.
That’s the message now coming out of the commission appointed by President Barack Obama to deal with the budget deficit. The bipartisan panel is co-chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles, a former Clinton White House chief of staff, and Republican Alan Simpson, a former U.S. senator from Wyoming.
The commission was appointed last winter but held up its recommendations until after the election. Both Democrats and Republicans were happy with that — neither wants to shoulder the blame for what is undoubtedly the most unpopular move in years.
The wealthy financiers and business moguls in the United States who make up the ruling class have been on an offensive against the working class for many years. They’ve restructured industry, replacing workers with machines. They’ve taken their capital overseas to exploit even lower-paid workers and then demanded that workers here accept less or else.
But with all that, their capitalist system went into a downward spiral three years ago and, as far as jobs go, hasn’t recovered. Government revenues fell with the capitalist recession. The administration threw trillions of dollars at the banks and auto corporations to bail them out.
And last year the rich got their politicians at all levels of government to vote for cutting the social service budgets — so there’d be plenty of money to pay interest to the bankers on past loans and to pay the military-industrial complex for all the costly hardware used to carry out imperialist wars and invasions.
The federal government is deeply in debt and running a deficit. But why? Not because workers here get too many benefits. Given the tremendous wealth that exists in this country, the lack of good schools, health care, housing, pensions and other needed state services is scandalous. The U.S. is way behind other developed countries in these areas.
The other side of the coin — literally — is the miserably small taxes on the rich, which have been cut and cut and cut while workers’ net income has shrunk.
More money thrown at the banks, corporations and war machine. Lower taxes on the rich. Result: a big deficit. That’s a no-brainer.
But the panel doesn’t see it that way. They want to raise the retirement age of workers in this country to 69 and at the same time cut our benefits. Yes, work until you drop, that’s the message.
Remember all that money you paid into your retirement with every paycheck? You thought it was yours, that it was part of your wages being banked by the government so you could retire in safety. No, suddenly it’s theirs to play with.
This whole deal is so raw, so criminal, that not even all the members of the hand-picked panel can go along with it.
Rep. Jan Schakowski of Illinois is on the panel. She knows you don’t have to cut old age and medical benefits to balance the budget. She can’t endorse the Bowles-Simpson recommendations and announced a plan to “keep Social Security benefits intact, make deep reductions at the Pentagon and raise corporate taxes to target profits and excessive pay for chief executives. ... [It] would cut nearly $430 billion from the deficit in 2015, meeting Obama’s goal of balancing federal spending and revenues, except for interest on the national debt.” (Washington Post, Nov. 16)
She’s right. The money is there for Social Security, Medicare and much, much more. There’s enormous wealth in the United States. Not one social benefit needs to be touched. But it will take a massive struggle by all affected to stop this offensive against the entire working class, one that is cruelest against its most vulnerable members.