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Vol. 81/No. 5      February 6, 2017

(front page)

Trump moves into White House, faces liberal outcry

Republican billionaire President Donald Trump provoked an uproar among liberals Jan. 20 when he described the bleak conditions millions of workers face in his inaugural speech. On the steps of the U.S. Capitol he declared, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

These critics called Trump’s address “dark” and “divisive,” exposing the fact that they live in a different world from working people and don’t experience the crisis workers and farmers face under today’s grinding depression conditions. They can’t understand that Trump won the presidency by acknowledging the economic and social devastation workers face and promising to deal with it, something neither he nor any capitalist politician can accomplish.

“The US ruling families and their rivals in Europe and the Pacific engage in ceaseless efforts to maximize their own profits the world over,” wrote Socialist Workers Party leader Steve Clark in the introduction to The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes. “Growing carnage and the dispossession of millions of human beings is the result.”

Workers’ anger at the impact of the deepening capitalist crisis of jobs, production, trade and finance became the central question in the 2016 election, leading to irreparable political instability in both capitalist parties.

After his victory, the Republican Party is being rebuilt around Trump. The Democrats face a deeper crisis. Many, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and most of the left, demand a “revolution” in the party, looking to take it over and install a more progressive capitalist reform program.

“The old guard of the Democratic party has to go,” left-wing filmmaker and Sanders supporter Michael Moore told a rally the night of the inauguration. “They are supported by corporate America. We need new leadership, new blood and young people.” Moore predicted Trump’s victory after the Republican National Convention last summer.

These forces, along with the editors of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and other liberal media, along with the bulk of the federal bureaucracy, and the millions of professionals, academics, and others that make up the cosmopolitan meritocracy, are waging political war against the new president.

Trump takes office

In his first few days in office Trump issued a series of executive orders rescinding steps taken by former President Barack Obama and pushed a number of his cabinet nominees through. He met with a delegation of CEOs of auto, computer, steel, aerospace and other industrial giants, pressing them to put more investment into plant and production inside U.S. borders, while assuring them his administration would take steps to remove regulatory restrictions on the bosses to bolster their profits.

He also convened a meeting with half a dozen construction union officials, who agree with Trump on advancing certain “infrastructure” projects, including construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipelines. The latter has been fought by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota, backed by thousands of Native Americans and others, seeking to defend the tribe’s water sources and sacred burial sites.

In another executive order, Trump signaled intent to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, calling on government agencies to minimize the act’s “unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens,” like the penalty for those who can’t prove they are unable to pay.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved nominations of former Marine generals James Mattis as Secretary of Defense and John Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security. Mattis announced plans for an Asian trip with stops in Japan and South Korea. Trump has sharpened the stance toward the capitalist rulers in China over trade and other matters.

Trump signed a memorandum withdrawing the U.S. from the 5,500-page Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. What the rulers call “trade pacts” or “free trade” are in fact massive sets of agreements between rival imperialist powers dividing up arenas for investment, trade and exploitation of wage labor, with the strongest calling the shots.

Trump contacted the heads of state of Mexico and Canada and said he wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a champion of the labor officialdom’s class-collaborationist policies, praised the president’s “America First” moves on trade as good for workers, calling them “just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy.”

Trump campaigned promising to negotiate bilateral agreements good for “all Americans.” But the U.S. is divided into two sharply conflicting classes, and whether the rulers choose “free trade” or protectionism to defend their profits, workers go to the wall.

While the Trump administration’s moves on trade and infrastructure may aid today’s anemic uptick in the business cycle, no policy of any wing of the capitalist rulers can turn around the long-term contraction of production and trade. The workings of the capitalist system, exacerbated by the political turmoil and ongoing wars that mark today’s world, ensure that another sharp downturn like the 1987 stock market crash or the 2008 real estate bubble collapse looms on the horizon.  
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