Jack Minor is a journalist and researcher who served in the United States Marine Corps under President Reagan. Also a former pastor, he has written hundreds of articles and been interviewed about his work on many TV and radio outlets.More ↓Less ↑
The Communist Party USA is backing Barack Obama’s position on the coming fiscal cliff and claims its economic program “will unfold in the coming year” with the reelection of Obama and continued Democrat control of the U.S. Senate.
The statement came from Joelle Fishman, chairwoman of the Connecticut Communist Party, during a recent conference call on the upcoming fiscal cliff.
The conference call, titled “Don’t Bargain with People’s Lives,” featured an economic report by CPUSA national Vice-Chairman Jarvis Tanner, who said Obama’s demands in the fiscal cliff debate are exactly what the country needs.
Republicans have said any revenue increases must be accompanied by spending cuts. However, Obama has countered by saying he wants Congress to raise taxes, extend unemployment benefits beyond the current 99-week limit, pass an additional $50 billion in stimulus spending and grant him authority to raise the debt limit whenever he wants.
Tanner says the president’s position shows that unlike the Republicans, he is making a “serious proposal.”
“The real economic crisis is a depressed economy including 15 million unemployed. The Obama administration has at least made a serious proposal including ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, extending the middle-class tax cut, a $50 billion stimulus package next year, no immediate new spending cuts, extending of unemployment insurance and increasing the debt limit,” Tanner said.
The comment was in a report to the Communist Party USA National Committee from the party’s chairman, Sam Webb.
“We meet on the heels of an enormous people’s victory. It was a long and bitterly contested battle in which the forces of inclusive democracy came out on top. The better angels of the American people spread their wings,” Webb wrote in the online report.
He said blacks, Hispanics and women worked together to defeat “racist … white people” and that it now is time for the Communist Party USA to work on the foundations established by Obama on issues regarding the environment, homosexual marriage and minorities.
“If anything the vote … is an insistent call for action on the most pressing problems facing the working class and people. That is the election’s mandate,” Webb wrote. “This was not a vote in favor of destroying social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; or rolling back domestic spending; or resolving the budget crisis on the people’s backs.”
Tanner went on to say that taxes need to increase even further, along with more government spending.
“Many progressives, including myself, would argue for more extensive revenue measures including higher tax rates on wealthy billionaires, closing more corporation’s and rich people’s loopholes and a financial transaction tax,” he said. “We also need a reversal of previous spending cuts and a much more extensive stimulus package, including substantial aid to city and state governments.”
Obama has suggested he may veto any bill that does not give him authority to raise the debt limit, even if it were to grant his demands for tax increases on those earning over $200,000. He also frequently has called for increased government spending as a way to create jobs.
“Investments in education, innovation and infrastructure are an essential down payment on our future,” he said in a Saturday weekly address in 2011.
The president has also called for extending the payroll tax holiday and reinstating the death tax to 2009 levels.
His demands mirror those made by Tanner, who said America’s problem is not too much spending but, rather, not enough spending.
“Rather than calling it a fiscal cliff, it is better described as an austerity bomb,” Tanner said. “It would be a disaster to withdraw between $500 billion and $700 billion of government spending from the economy in 2013.”
He claims that spending under the Obama administration has decreased to historic lows.
“The conversation in Washington seems to focus exclusively on achieving deficit reduction, even though the economic threat we face in January is actually too much deficit reduction. It’s important to emphasize that last year’s budget deal has already led to severe cuts,” Tanner lamented. “For example, an e-mail from the American Federation of Government Employees said cuts to the Social Security administration’s core budget are already impacting millions of Americans. Offices across the country are being shut down. Additionally, 9,000 employees at the Social Security administration are being cut by next summer and tens of thousands are facing furlough.”
Regarding the exploding federal debt, Tanner says it is “irrelevant.”
“How do we pay for it? No matter how irrelevant the question is, that’s the question that always gets asked . What deficit are you talking about,” Tanner continued. “We have a real deficit of jobs, especially of useful productive jobs. We have a deficit of classroom teachers, a deficit of neighborhood health clinics and workers to staff them, a deficit of youth programs, a deficit of renewable energy. Any serious discussion of economic programs must address these deficits.”
He said that by refusing to raise taxes and wanting to cut government spending, Republicans are engaging in “naked class warfare” and that by refusing to raise the debt limit when the president asks for it they are engaging in “economic sabotage.”
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that Social Security reform is off the table in the fiscal cliff discussions.
“Social Security is sound for the next many years. But we want to make sure that in the outer years people are protected also, but it’s not going to be part of the budget talks, as far as I’m concerned,” Reid said.
The CPUSA has echoed similar sentiments, saying Social Security spending does not need to be addressed at this time.
“The immediate crisis is political not economic. There is no reason to solve the problem Social Security may or may not face two decades from now in order to agree on a simple resolution to the immediate budget crisis,” Tanner said.
Near the end of the call, Tanner made it plain that right or wrong also is irrelevant, and it’s just a matter of forcing the issue.
“The outcome of the struggle does not depend on who is right or wrong, but on which side is stronger.”
Fishman said the party’s members need to support Obama by working with labor unions, civil rights groups and other progressive organizations.
“In this next period between now and the end of the year which is the final year of his lame-duck session in which the tea party forces are trying to create a situation which will once again hamstring the Obama administration and progressives in Congress for the next four years,” Fishman said. “We have to make our voice loudly heard along with the labor movement, civil rights and other organizations as we move on.”