Friday, January 20, 2017

AMERICA'S SAD MARCH TO REVOLUTION: The inauguration of Donald Trump: An event that will live in infamy

The inauguration of Donald Trump: An event that will live in infamy
The inauguration of Donald Trump: An event that will live in infamy
By The Socialist Equality Party

20 January 2017
The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th
president is among the most ignominious events in the history of the United
States. More than $100 million is being spent on the celebrations of the new
president’s installation. In vain! No amount of money can dispel the nauseating
stink that pervades every aspect of this inauguration.
Nor can the fraudulent
orchestration of public festivities conceal the widespread sense that the
country, with the installation of the new administration, has embarked on a
path that will lead to a disaster of unimaginable dimensions.
History has caught up with American capitalism.
The protracted process of economic and social decay has been covered over for
decades with democratic phrases that served to disguise the gap between the
official political myths and the underlying reality. But the mask has now come
off. Donald Trump personifies the corruption, ruthlessness, parasitism and
essentially fascistic mindset of the capitalist oligarchs who control the
United States.
Trump will lead a government of the rich, by the
rich, and for the rich. Joining the billionaires in Trump’s cabinet and White
House staff are retired generals, tapped for the key national security
positions, and ultra-right ideologues appointed to oversee programs and social
services that they have devoted their political efforts to destroying. Working
people will pay for huge tax cuts for the super-rich and a massive military
buildup through the gutting of social programs like public education, Medicaid,
Medicare and Social Security, savage exploitation on the job, and the erosion
of whatever remains of basic democratic rights.
Internationally, Trump’s “America First”
chauvinism sets the stage for escalating economic and geopolitical conflicts.
The last quarter century of war—beginning with the invasion of Iraq in 1991 and
continued with the unending “war on terror”—will prove to have been only a
prelude to even bloodier military operations. Even before taking office, Trump
has made it clear that the United States views even its longstanding European
allies as competitors who, to the extent that they get in the way of American
interests, will be dealt with as enemies.
Within the ruling elite there are sharp
divisions over tactics, reflected in the unprecedented political conflicts that
have erupted after the elections. However, the attacks on Trump from top
Democrats and Republicans are centered not on the ultra-right policy he is
pledged to carry out, but rather on the direction of American war planning. The
factions of the corporate elite and military-intelligence apparatus that backed
Clinton want to ensure that there is no retreat from the aggressive posture
towards Russia, while Trump has directed his rhetorical attacks, for now,
against China and, most recently, Germany.
However bitter the disputes, all sections of the
ruling class are united in their conviction that 1) American imperialism must
pursue its global interests even at the risk of war; and 2) the attack on the
social interests and political rights of the working class must be intensified.
That Trump speaks and tweets not only for himself but on behalf of the ruling
class is proven by the fact that his cabinet selections of billionaires and
generals are sailing through the Senate confirmation proceedings with
negligible opposition. As for Obama, he devoted his final press conference
Wednesday to vouching for the political legitimacy of the incoming
administration and declaring that, having won, “it is appropriate for [Trump]
to go forward with his visions and his values.”
With the accession of Trump, the ruling class
anticipates the revival of a mythic American past—a land where the capitalist
oligarchy is free to exploit the population and pollute the environment to its
heart’s content; where the working class is deprived of any significant social
rights, including the right to public education, medical care and retirement
security; where police can maim and kill with no questions asked; where
corporations can underpay workers, fire them at will and even use child labor;
and where the basest prejudices are cynically encouraged and essential
democratic rights are trampled upon.
But this nightmarish and dystopian vision of a
capitalist hell cannot be realized without the unleashing of social conflict on
a scale that will dwarf the great industrial struggles of the 1930s. The coming
political and social shocks will jolt the American working class into action.
Skeptics—who are to be found in abundance among university academics and in the
anti-Marxist pseudo-left political organizations of the affluent middle
class—dismiss the very possibility of mass working class struggle. Those who
reject all efforts to politically educate the working class point to the
absence of mass revolutionary consciousness. However, their skepticism
expresses their own ignorance of and indifference to the historical processes
that lay the foundations for revolutionary eruptions. As Leon Trotsky, the
greatest strategist of revolutionary class struggle of the last century, wrote:
The swift changes of mass views and moods in an epoch of
revolution thus derive, not from the flexibility and mobility of man’s mind,
but just the opposite, from its deep conservatism. The chronic lag of ideas and
relations behind new objective conditions, right up to the moment when the
latter crash over people in the form of a catastrophe, is what creates in a
period of revolution that leaping movement of ideas and passions which seems to
the police mind a mere result of the activities of “demagogues.”
For all the bombast and braggadocio of Donald
Trump, his administration is, in the final analysis, the product of the
desperate crisis that afflicts American capitalism. Its reckless policies will
set into motion forces both within the United States and internationally that
it cannot control.
In this new situation, the most urgent political
task is the building of a revolutionary socialist movement of the working
class, independent of and opposed to the parties of big business, the Democrats
as much as the Republicans. This is the work to which the Socialist Equality
Party in the United States and its co-thinkers in the International Committee
of the Fourth International are dedicated.
The SEP fights for a socialist and
internationalist response to the Trump administration and the crisis of the
capitalist system. In opposition to oligarchic control of the wealth of
society, the SEP demands the transformation of the gigantic corporations and
banks into democratically controlled public utilities, to serve social needs,
not private profit. We call for a massive redistribution of wealth to advance
the goal of social equality and to ensure the fundamental rights of the working
class to a well-paid job, quality health care and education, a secure and
comfortable retirement, and a healthy environment.
In opposition to the nationalist poison of the
ruling class and the drive to war, the Socialist Equality Party fights for the
international unity of all workers. Workers must oppose every effort to
scapegoat immigrants or workers of other countries, and reject every effort to
sow divisions along racial and gender lines.
Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” is in
reality a call for class war, military violence and dictatorship. In response,
workers must embrace the proud banner of international unity, equality and
We urge working people and
all those looking for a way forward against the Trump administration to read
the World Socialist Web Site and join the SEP to build
a new revolutionary leadership in the working class.

Trump prepares to slash federal budget by $10.5 trillion over next decade

Trump prepares to slash federal budget by $10.5 trillion over next decade

By Niles Niemuth 
20 January 2017

The Trump transition team is developing a federal budget based on a blueprint drawn up by the right-wing Heritage Foundation that will slash $10.5 trillion from government spending over the next decade, according to a report Thursday in the Hill.
The main budget priorities of the Trump administration are to be published within 45 days of the inauguration and the full budget proposal is expected sometime in April.
According to the Hill, the Trump administration’s budget proposal is being drawn up by Russ Vought and John Gray, former Heritage Foundation employees and one-time aides to Vice President Mike Pence. Vought was also the executive direction of the Republican Study Group, which has proposed similar cuts in recent years, while Gray served as an aide to Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan when he led the House Budget Committee.
The implementation of the reported budget cuts would mark a massive escalation in the social counterrevolution and attack on the living standards of the working class carried out by the Democrats and the Obama administration over the last eight years.
Among the “dramatic” reductions that are being prepared are significant cuts to funding for the Commerce Department and the Department of Energy, with programs currently under their jurisdiction either eliminated entirely or transferred to other departments.
Other federal departments that will reportedly be significantly impacted by cuts and program elimination include the Department of Transportation, Justice Department and State Department.
Under the Heritage Foundation plan, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which oversees the operations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR), would be entirely privatized. While the CPB still relies on the federal government for a portion of its funding, it has increasingly relied on donations from large corporate sponsors and from the wealthy.
The Heritage Foundation’s budget blueprint is a litany of attacks on benefits and social programs which benefit the poor, as well as an assault on scientific research.
Under the guise of “reducing fraud,” the foundation calls for new restrictions on the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits millions of single mothers and low-wage workers. Other reactionary measures under consideration are new work requirements for adult Food Stamp recipients and eliminating Social Security payments for disabled children.
Federal funding for the arts and humanities research would be totally phased out with the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Scientific research carried out across multiple departments, including in the Department of Energy, will be completely or partially defunded.
The savagery of the reported budget proposals is yet another expression of the fundamental class character of the incoming Trump administration, in which billionaire oligarchs are taking direct control of the federal government, rather than pulling the strings from behind the scenes.
Reports of the incoming administration’s budget plans came as the Senate held cabinet hearings Thursday for multimillionaire corporate raider and former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin, nominated to serve as the Treasury Secretary, and former Texas governor Rick Perry for head of the Department of Energy, an agency which Perry called to eliminate in 2012.
Mnuchin, if confirmed, would join a cabinet comprised of billionaires, multimillionaires and former generals. While Mnuchin has an estimated net worth of $400 million, that puts him well behind Trump’s picks for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos ($5.1 billion), Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross ($2.5 billion), and the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon ($1.35 billion).
During his testimony Thursday, Mnuchin defended his time as the head of California-based IndyMac Bank, renamed OneWest, where he made massive profits aggressively pursuing foreclosures against homeowners during the height of the foreclosure crisis.
Mnuchin sought in his remarks to present himself as a savior moved by the plight of homeowners who was hindered in his efforts to help by too many government regulations. “If we had not bought IndyMac,” he said, “the bank would likely have been broken up and sold in pieces to private investors, where the outcome for consumers could have been much bleaker.” (And Mnuchin just happened to make millions in the process!)
He promised that if confirmed as Treasury Secretary, he would work to eliminate financial regulations that had kept him from becoming even wealthier. Mnuchin will also be taking the lead in formulating Trump’s tax plan, which is to include cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to only 15 percent.
Demonstrating the practically nonexistent character of the vetting process for Trump’s ultra-wealthy nominees, the Washington Post reported Thursday that Mnuchin had failed to report his corporate interests in the Cayman Islands as well as more than $100 million in real estate and art holdings in an initial submission to the Senate panel reviewing his nomination. Though this lapse drew some flak from committee Democrats, it did little to hurt the former Goldman Sachs executive’s chances of confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate.
While some of Trump’s nominees make take their time to get through the confirmation process, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Thursday that a deal had been reached to approve retired Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis as Pentagon chief and retired Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly as head of the Department of Homeland Security shortly after Trump’s inauguration today.
“I looked at their records...and I think they’d be very good,” Schumer noted approvingly. He also indicated that Republican Representative Mike Pompeo would be confirmed as CIA director either today or on Monday.

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