The recent "welfare reform" bill passed by a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate, like similar legislation previously passed by the House of Representatives, is an attack on working people. The labor movement should campaign against it, and demand that President Clinton veto the legislation - whatever version ends up coming across his desk.
If the cuts are imposed more hospitals will close, the deterioration of public health care will deepen, and important social services will be eliminated.
President Clinton is fond of describing himself as the president who will "end welfare as we know it." And every day it becomes clearer that the attacks on welfare are not only aimed at creating a pariah class of scapegoats for capitalism's ills, but also are preparation for the broader assaults planned against working people.
As Democratic and Republican party politicians combine proposals for cutting Medicaid with posturing over cuts to the Medicare system - the Republicans' $270 billion vs. Clinton's $124 billion - the bottom line is the social wage that working people have fought for over past decades is the real target of the bipartisan plan to make working people pay for the crisis of the capitalist system.
With a small degree of candor, Congressman Newt Gingrich told Newsweek the attacks on Medicare are "absolutely at the heart of what we're trying to do."
But the fireworks that may spark a fire if they launch a frontal assault on Medicare and other aspects of Social Security is unnerving for the capitalist politicians. The working class is a fighting class and they are not in a hurry to take us on in battle. "The problem for the Republicans is not that they're squeezing health care programs," but "that they're trying to squeeze them too hard," warns an editorial from the Washington Post.
In an article entitled `Mediscare,' Newsweek characterizes an ad run by the AFL-CIO as "hysterical" because it states "more people will die." The article claims "timing is all in medical-care reform." They applaud Gingrich's "game plan" of using "political soundings" to "stall for time" to wait for the "trauma unit frenzy generated by the need to enact a budget and raise the ceiling on the national debt."
This cynicism is repugnant. More people will die as a result of the decrease in medical services and other cuts that are being proposed and implemented. Working people should reject the entire framework of the so- called budget deficit debate. The labor movement has no stake in solving the capitalist government's budget crisis.
Big- business politicians scapegoat immigrant workers while the bosses impose slave- labor conditions in sweatshops across the country. They attempt more and more to portray Medicare and Social Security as handouts for the elderly and a burden for the working class.
Meanwhile, the bosses continue to attack workers who are employed, trying to cut wages and gut pensions, speed up production, and impose unsafe conditions and more working hours at less pay. Strikers at Caterpillar, Detroit newspapers, and other work places are waging important battles that are part of answering the anti-working class campaign that is embodied in the attacks on welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, and other entitlements.
The bosses seek to divide working people as their economic system continues to decline. On the contrary, we should fight for our own solutions to the capitalist crisis by supporting workers' battles wherever they break out around the world.
The capitalist "welfare reform" program has nothing to do with putting people back to work. Capitalists thrive when a good percentage of workers are out on the streets hunting for jobs, competing with their brothers and sisters.
The union movement should fight for jobs for all, which means fighting for a shorter workweek with no cut in pay, and massive public works programs. Trade unionists should defend affirmative action programs to unite the working class and oppose scapegoating of immigrant workers and those on welfare.
Ultimately working people must fight for a workers and farmers government that will replace this dog-eat- dog system and build a socialist society free of exploitation and degradation of human beings.
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