The Democratic Party majorities in Congress may be a thing of the past, if campaign spending has anything to do with it. It’s the age of austerity! This is the battle cry of the ruling class as a response to the greatest slump since the Great Depression. “Bond markets” demand that the public finances be trimmed, meaning that capitalists demand that current immense deficits be cut so they are once again in the black and it will be safe to lend money to states again. In order to pull off this miracle of cutting deficits at a time when social spending by states should be increasing, it seems the ruling class is turning back to the tried and true Republican Party. The party of small government and large corporate profits is turning out to be pulling in most of the campaign cash for the 2010 election cycle.
It’s the age of austerity, but will everyone share equally in the catastrophe? Of course not. One need only take a glance at the budget choices of the Democrat-controlled Congress to get a sense of how the pain will be doled out. The military budget is larger than Bush’s military budget and all other countries’ budgets combined, while troops remain in Iraq and those in Afghanistan have surged. The bank bailouts continue that prevented banks from collapsing from their own bad loans. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), as it’s called, allowed the financial aristocracy of America, Wall Street, to continue their operations unchanged, despite the near meltdown of the economy.
For 2010, the top 36 finance houses on Wall Street gave out more than $144 billion dollars in salaries and bonuses (Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2010). For whom is it the age of austerity? Be that as it may, the political winds are shifting.
The Republicans are being called on to cut the programs that most of us desperately need. Groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others are stepping in to spend $300 million on advertising for the Republicans versus $100 million spent by similar entities on the Democrats (Wall Street Journal). The Republicans are the most consistent party of big business and capitalism, and the Chamber of Commerce should know.
The Republicans are all about tax cuts and minimal social spending as a way to run the economy, and this is no accident. It’s not that they’re afraid of their civil liberties being destroyed by a big, unwieldy government; it’s because government requires taxes to function, and taxes eat into the profits of big business. And profits, after all, are the sole motive for capitalists. The taxes for social spending come from two places, the pockets of the capitalists, or the pockets of the workers.
Medicare, Medicaid, and pensions are unfortunately not going to be defended by the Democrats, who base themselves on capitalism. The Democrats are unable to come through for working families. That’s because they work primarily for big business, while offering only false promises and a few crumbs to workers, a tough balancing act.