Sanders, Clinton & the tax ripoff
Published Dec 16, 2010 8:24 PM
from: Workers World
It’s easy to see that the tax deal is a bad deal for workers and all poor and oppressed people. Though if passed, it will give emergency relief to some of the long-term unemployed, this is at a heavy price to the entire working class. The Barack Obama administration claims it was the best deal it could get, that Republican senators would filibuster anything better. Even Democratic politicians say the president caved in without a fight.
The super-rich benefit big time from the deal. Families with the top 1 percent of income already pocket more each year than those in the bottom 50 percent. They own more than those in the bottom 90 percent. But they refuse to give up their tax break.
When Obama called on Bill Clinton to sell the deal, you knew it stunk. There was no way to watch Clinton mealy-mouth his explanation without flashing back to 1996. Then President Clinton was selling “welfare reform.” It was supposed to help poor people find paying jobs.
Now the poor — including all the tens of millions of unemployed and underemployed — have no welfare and no jobs. This is disproportionately horrible for African Americans, Latinos and Latinas, and all oppressed peoples. It is horrible for the whole working class.
Sometimes, even in the millionaires club known as the U.S. Senate, there are one or two who stand up against the tide of reaction. They may not do it consistently, and it would be foolish to count on them, but even resistance from these quarters can have an impact. For example, in 1964 Senators Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska were the only two to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Their opposition helped legitimize the then-small movement opposing U.S. aggression against Vietnam.
On Dec. 10 Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont held the floor for eight and a half hours while he railed against the tax giveaway to the rich. There were at least two important lessons from Sanders’ day-long resistance.
Sanders’ first lesson: If the Democrats who disagree with the deal really wanted to fight it, they could have tag-teamed with Sanders and stopped the bill from passing. Looking backward, if the Democrats had really been serious about opposing the invasion and occupation of Iraq, they could have filibustered the war allocation bills, just as the Republicans filibuster for everything these days.
Sander’s second lesson: Maybe the less reactionary senators and representatives can’t get a bill passed that helps the poor if they restrict the struggle to Congress. There are too many reactionaries there. But, he said, progressive legislators can use their influence to call on the people to demonstrate and rally, even come to Washington and insist that Congress not do business as usual.
If the legislators were serious, that’s what they could do. Conclusion: The Democrats were not serious about opposing the Iraq war and now they’re not serious about helping the poor. Realizing this truth is only the beginning of the fight that working and oppressed people need to wage. It’s time to take the next step.
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