Editorial: The Economic Offensve Against the People

March 4, 2003

In Iraq, the U.S. capitalist class is preparing to launch an all-out war of aggression and the battle lines are sharply drawn.

In their economic offensive against the American working class, the capitalists are proceeding in a piecemeal fashion, cutting a "little bit" here and a "little bit" there. But this offensive also adds up to an all-out war.

For example, federal, state and local governments are cutting back on social programs. Some states focus more on reducing Medicaid benefits or eligibility, while others are slashing funds for the public schools. Because the focus of the attack is different in different states and different cities and because the cuts are made only bit-by-bit, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that a generalized offensive is taking place.

The problem is not only that a "little here" and a "little there" add up to a lot. The problem is that the government keeps eroding and undercutting standards and rights which the workers only gained after decades of struggle.

Bit-by-bit, government is privatizing Medicare and Medicaid

- undercutting the entitlement status of these programs. School "choice" and privatization are eroding the foundations of the universal public school system. Companies keep eliminating guaranteed pension benefits and Bush would like to do the same with Social Security. Welfare, housing assistance and other income-support programs are nearly wiped out.

In short, the government is denying any responsibility for the well-being of the people. It is dismantling the public sector of the economy and helping the biggest monopolies plunder the public treasury and public infrastructure.

The workers must address the generalized and fundamental character of these attacks; we cannot just resist in piecemeal fashion.

Rather we must take up the challenge and fight for fundamental change in the economy and the government's economic program.

The workers must insist that the very starting point of the government's policy is to guarantee the inalienable economic rights of the people, including the right to a secure livelihood, to free health care, to a modern education, etc. These rights can only be guaranteed through planned investments in the public sectors of the economy.

To implement such an economic program, to put the huge resources of our country in service of the people instead of the capitalist exploiters, the workers must come out as an independent political force.