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Talk to WWP forum

‘Debt-ceiling crisis, true and false’

Published Aug 12, 2011 7:58 AM

Following are excerpts of a talk to a July 28 Workers World Party forum in New York by WWP Secretariat member Larry Holmes. Watch the entire talk at workers.tv.

The debt ceiling crisis is not solved. The Republicans and Democrats and the White House have not agreed on what to do. There may be some temporary political solution they patch together so that the country doesn’t default. But even if they do that, it will be temporary.

I want to blow up a couple of myths. There’s the notion that this is a manufactured crisis, this debt ceiling thing. And it’s true — it’s about the two parties posturing about the elections. And of course, we know the money’s there, the trillions of dollars they spent on Afghanistan and Iraq and now Libya, and the trillions of dollars in tax breaks that Bush and others gave to the rich. We can show how they could eliminate the debt without attacking the workers.

But it’s a real crisis, a consequence of the crisis of the worldwide capitalist system. The crisis of overproduction, which means that the economy slows down to nothing and there’s no expansion. Workers are laid off, and there’s trillions of dollars less in tax revenues. Add to that the many trillions of dollars that governments, particularly this government, have poured into the banks and into the financial system to prevent the system from crashing. As far as the U.S. government goes, that’s somewhere between 11 and 14 trillion dollars — close to what they say is the deficit.

This debt-ceiling debacle is really another big attack on the workers. Both parties are in agreement. The Democrats have caved in. Obama a few weeks ago said “I’ll put Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security on the table, as long as you consider raising taxes on the rich.” That’s really great for the working class and the oppressed — take everything away, as long as we can talk about raising some taxes on billionaires. But it turns out that raising taxes is not on the table.

All the plans cut between 2 and 4 trillion dollars. They talk a lot about discretionary funds. Those discretionary funds are a lot of the monies that states and municipalities depend on. All of us fighting our budget struggles on a local basis should know that more’s to come.

The media pundits say the markets are not going to like it, because two to four trillion dollars is not enough. You remember when the commission that Bush empowered came back with their report and they called for cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And everybody distanced themselves from them, even Obama. Now every suggestion that the commission had has been made mainstream. Those who call themselves liberals are saying, “We’ve got to stop the default by cutting. Let’s not talk about taxing the rich.”

Consider their problem in trying to save capitalism. They want to solve the crisis on the backs of the workers by cutting trillions of dollars, but if they do that then workers won’t have any jobs or money and won’t be able to buy anything. That will make the capitalist crisis worse.

Those in the ruling class who want to play the racism and fascism card know if they’re going to bring on a depression, they’re going to need scapegoats. And here we go with Muslims and Arabs and lesbian, gay, bi and trans, and women, and immigrants, and young Black people who get killed, like the young brother in San Francisco who got shot outside the BART station.

The working class is not mobilized. There may be a demonstration or people calling their member of Congress about save health care or Social Security but there’s no big general strikes, no Tahrir Squares, not yet. Nothing emboldens these neo-fascists more than the workers not getting up and fighting.

We have got to help generate the fightback. It’s got to be explicitly anti-capitalist. All who are being radicalized by this economic violence need to show that we’re up to matching and defeating the neo-fascist elements.

On Sept. 17, the anniversary of the bailout after the whole capitalist system almost collapsed, there’s going to be an occupation of Wall Street. What happens on Sept. 17 will give us a little glimpse of how it’s going. We want to be part of it. Down with capitalism!