No blank check for billionaires

People outside the New York Stock Exchange protest the tax bill that handed trillions of dollars to the rich, chanting “Kill the bill, don’t kill us!” PHOTO/ERIK MCGREGOR


When Trump proposed a budget last year that would cut programs for the poor, a woman in Mississippi described to a reporter how she was barely living each month on a $735 disability check and $56 in food stamps. She said, “I don’t think he [Trump] knows how people like me will have to try to survive because of something he might do. He doesn’t know what I have to endure.”

Now that Congress has finished handing a multi-trillion dollar tax cut to the rich, they have their sights set on a federal budget that cuts programs that tens of millions of us depend on to barely survive, such as public aid, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and even Social Security. The tax cut for the rich left a $1.5 trillion hole in the budget that Congress—including most Democrats—will fill by cutting programs for the poor rather than by cutting the bloated military budget. That we need these programs is made more clear by a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing touring the encampments who recently stated that homelessness in the U.S is “stunning” and “cruel.”

The mouthpieces for the rich in Congress claim that the corporations will use the tax cut proceeds to create jobs, but that’s a lie. Many corporate CEOs have openly said they’ll use the money to buy back their companies’ stock. This means bigger dividends and profits for stockholders. Since December, 29 companies have announced $70 billion in stock buybacks. The companies include such giants as Home Depot, Oracle, Honeywell, Bank of America, Anthem, Boeing, MasterCard, and United Airlines.

In fact, the stock market has been pumped up over the last 10 years mainly by such stock buybacks. US companies, who were already flush with cash before the unneeded tax cut, plunged nearly $4 trillion into buying back their stock between 2008 and mid-2017. In 2016, a whopping 66 percent of corporate earnings went to buybacks.

The tax cut jackpot will also go to pay for corporate mergers and fat bonuses for CEOs. And far from creating jobs, it will go to help companies buy more labor-replacing technology that will actually eliminate jobs.

Labor-eliminating technology is affecting both the billionaire class and the working class. Producing more with robots and fewer people means there is less and less profit to be made investing in producing things, so the corporations go looking for new sources of profit. They invest more and more in gambling on the financial markets, and they also rob the public treasury to line their pockets. They want to eliminate public aid programs because they don’t want to support labor they no longer need.

Yet as jobs disappear and wages for millions of us are too little to live on, we, the people, need government more than ever to intervene on our behalf and guarantee us the basic necessities of life.

People are fearful and angry. Only 12 percent of American adults want to see Medicaid spending cut, and four in 10 want it increased. Even among Republicans, only 37% support making cuts to programs for the poor. And most people opposed the tax giveaway to the billionaires.

The people are not standing still. We are marching and demonstrating and thousands are running for office to voice their demands. We are demanding that the government be our government and guarantee a future for us and our children. Trump’s openly racist and fascist policies are sparking resistance, but it’s becoming apparent to many that the Democratic Party is one more party of the corporations. The direction of things is toward the people building their own party. This is one more step in cutting ourselves loose from the corporations and their parties so we can build a new society without poverty, fear, or the dictatorship of the billionaires.


Healthcare for all: Build the Movement

Disabled people protest Medicaid cuts.

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