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A Revolutionary View of the California Recall and Bipartisan Budget Crisis

by Workers Action Monday, Aug. 11, 2003 at 4:43 PM
SF_Adam (at) rocketmail.com

Don’t Throw Your Vote Away by Giving It to the Democrats or the Republicans! OUT WITH THEM ALL! DON’T VOTE YES OR NO ON THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNORS RECALL The Recall is a Trap to Make Workers Pay for the Capitalist Crisis! VOTE FOR THE SOCIALIST CANDIDATE C.T. WEBER for GOVERNOR! PEACE & FREEDOM PARTY Organize Now to Build a Workers Party!

A Revolutionary View...
ctweber2.gif, image/png, 145x215

The California Recall and Bipartisan Budget Crisis

The two main parties of capitalist government are in a crisis. The Republican Party has successfully filed petitions to have the Democratic party Governor, Gray Davis, put on the ballot for removal from office on October 7. Davis is now suing to postpone the election to March 2004. On that ballot, voters will be asked to endorse or reject the recall. Then they will be asked for their choice for Governor.

We urge workers to abstain from the recall question and vote for the Socialist Candidate for Governor C.T. Weber, Peace and Freedom Party.

The Bipartisan Budget Crisis

Both the Democrats and the Republicans are representatives of the bankers, bosses, and businessmen who run California as their own personal estate. Shuffling one capitalist party for the next cannot solve this economic disaster, which has its roots in the long-brewing crisis on Wall Street and Washington. We say this is a bipartisan crisis. Indeed the Democrat Davis has authored a budget he knows the Republicans will completely support. No matter which party is in the Governor’s seat, both parties have had a major part in the creation and management of the crisis and essentially their solution is the same: balance the budget with job cuts and social benefits dumping. The labor fakers and their colleagues in the Democratic Party wish to fool the people into believing that the budget is a product of a Republican ploy and that what the "evil" Republicans have in store will be "much worse." This fear-mongering only serves to cloth the barbarity of the Democrats themselves. They wrote this budget in order to make the workers pay for the capitalist crisis. This has always been the political program of both the Democrats and Republicans. This is why we of Workers Action insist on calling this crisis by its right name:

Voting for the Republicans’ Recall or against it as the Democrats ask, is not a choice at all. Either way people are losing jobs, schools are shambles, hospitals are loosing accreditation, and thousands of young Californians have been sent off to fight two imperialist wars in two years.

That is why we say “Out with them all! Everyone of them must go! Build a Workers’ Party to make the capitalists pay for their own crisis!”

The Big Lie of the Budget: Jobs and Education "Spared"

The Democrats and the Republicans voted this job-cutting budget, which is masked to look like only a "few" jobs were cut and the education was "spared." Nothing could be further from the truth! They have agreed, along with union bosses, to divert the cuts until after this episode of the political crisis is over. Today, they say they have a short fall of billion dollars, but in fact they have not yet assigned all the cuts to state personnel, social services, or to local governments. In their determination to make the workers of this state pay, they are completely united, their tactic has been to conceal the crisis, and let it spill out one, small layoff after another. But the ship is sinking faster than this team can empty it with a teacup. The plan for tomorrow? More and more job cuts—this is the undeniable fact. We must act now to defend jobs and reinstate laid-off workers.

Davis says: "Clearly, you can't say we have a billion problem any more. I think reducing the shortfall from bn to bn is a step forward but there is much more work to do." Well, this is what the bipartisan cuts have done so far. We can see his direction. As the crisis gets worse, and will will get worse, their plan points directly to how they hope to solve the crisis: Cut jobs and cut social services. Here is what the bipartisan plan calls for so far:

1. Job Cuts/Wage Cuts. State workers are the first in line to pay for a crisis they had no hand in creating. The Davis's Bipartisan budget calls for "saving" .1 billion by laying off state workers or deferring salary increases, according to the New York Times. This is just a crude method used by employers for over a century: make fewer workers do more work. With a threat of cut in every paycheck, a reduction in healthcare coverage, and pensions, and the calming voice of a union president to accept the cuts, to boot.. To date the Department of Motor Vehicles has laid off 1053 workers, but throughout the system across over eighty counties. And many more are in line, with those with less than 30 months of employment going first. Between all the departments, which are headquarted in the Sacramento area, the Sacramento Business Journal conservatively foresees 16,000 jobs cut regionally.

2. K-12 Job Cuts. After cynically campaigning as the “Education” Governor, in fact K-12 teachers jobs seem to be one of the first areas Davis has looked to for a way to balance his cruel budget. In it city and county governments are slated to lose 5 million. Earlier this year, in a move not unrelated to this budget crisis, Davis sent out 30,000 layoff notices to teachers statewide, in reaction to the cash shortage. The firings were reduced to “only” 3,000 teachers, with the blessings of Teachers Union bureaucrats, thanking themselves that the “saved” 27,000 jobs. These misleaders are sidestepping the facts: California schools are amongst the worst in the nation, and) spending the least, compared to per capita income. (Furthermore, in accepting even the one percent cut in teachers’ jobs, the union leadership is weakening the union and strengthening Davis’s (or his successor) ability to wield an even bigger axe against jobs and education in the near future.) No union should accept any layoffs. This crisis was not created by having too many teachers!

Barbara Kerr, president of the 335,000-member California Teachers Association defended the bipartisan budget, "Teachers are relieved that we finally have a state budget in place. This clears the way for districts to finalize local budgets and get ready for students and teachers in the fall." and, "Any cut to education funding is painful, but we commend Governor Davis for working with teachers to target these budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible, and for protecting funding for class size reduction, special education and our schools of greatest need." Of course Kerr’s job is secure, as long as the rank and file teachers don’t organize and throw out this traitor to every working family in California. The teacher’s union’s bureaucracy is one of the key links in the shackle of chains which binds workers to the Democratic Party. The teachers unions in particular are heavily represented in nearly every Democratic Party body. This is just one horrible example of the complicity and treachery of the union tops to the cuts.

3. University Cuts. As if to underscore his Education double-cross, the bipartisan billion budget aims at the University of California (UC) system and its nine campuses. The largest campus, UCLA has been cut 0 million, an amount 1 million more than UC Regents anticipated. They in turn will balance the budget on the heads of the workers there. In addition, UCLA student fees will go up additional 5 percent, on top of a 25 percent (approved in July) to 30%. Resident undergraduates will now pay approximately ,984 and resident graduate students, ,219. The long awaited expansion of the University of California to Merced has been delayed once more, as part of a system-wide pattern of enrollment caps takes effect to reduce costs. In addition, the University of San Francisco Extension Service, which offers courses at night and weekends to thousands of working students will be closed. All this will have its most devastating effects on students from the working class. Once again: it was not too many college instructors that created the crisis: and yet they are the first to go.

4. Medi-Cal/Healthcare: A 5 percent reduction to firms and agencies are contracted to take Medi-Cal patients, the scrawny government-sponsored healthcare program for the poor. This will essentially eliminate the program for some enrollees, who will not be able to find physicians—which is already a decades old problem. This move is widely expected to reduce poor people’s access to health services, as only larger public agencies and larger for profit firms are predicted to weather this reduction. In addition, nearly 400,000 poor children will loose state supported health insurance.

5. State Fees Up. In addition, to the hard-hitting university fee increases, a number of state use fees and registration fees will be increased. One increase has captured the public’s attention in particular: a tripling of the vehicle registration fee. This fee increase, which actually has limited Green Party support, in particularly burdensome for workers and the poor in general, as well as independent truckers and others who must use their own vehicles to make a living. Given the overall anti-working class character of the entire cut-back, the vehicle licensing fee (VLF) has become the lightening rod of working class frustration on radio shows and in polls.

In addition in a popularly hated move, the Democrats have tripled vehicle licensing fees, which as most flat fees and taxes unequally burden independent truckers and low income car owners. Despite the massive unpopularity of this fee increase, the Democrats have stood by the Governor, of course without their lackeys in the labor bureaucracy.

6. Small programs. Dozens of small programs have been severely cut or eliminated altogether, such as the a newborn screening program that tests for inherited diseases have been ended. In addition, California Arts Council’s budget was slashed from million to million. For decades, anti-environmentalists have demanded that the California Coastal Commission be shut down or curtailed in order to eliminate a hindrance to off-shore oil drilling and for hotel development along California's beaches. Davis handed the Republicans a long awaited prize in closing the agency for good.

This Crisis Started on Wall Street and in Washington

The crisis in California cannot be separated from the crisis on Wall Street or the crisis in Washington. In the recent past, we have seen on huge corporation after another declare bankruptcy, admit they have kept fraudulent accounts of earnings, or have had to shut their doors due to revealed “corruption”. One of these corporations, Enron, has an unconcealed and direct impact on the budget crisis. All of these together have revealed a deep instability in many of the Fortune 500, the largest corporations in the US. The same sick economy, centered on Wall Street, has been exporting its crises to country after country in the past six years: Indonesia in 1997, Japan, Thailand, Russia, Mexico, and most devastatingly to Argentina, not to mention the collapse of an entire branch of the industry: the dot.com bomb. This instability is underscored by the drive toward war in the US economy, with two wars fought in two years. And now two occupations to maintains as a result.

This crisis is the latest and most profound example of the deep economic crisis in the US economy is the impending economic collapse of the state of California. The billion budget authored by Gray Davis, with its limited cuts is a sham. It does not name the massive cuts to social services, leaving the details to be figured out by his successor, or if he holds on to his office, in a stronger position to make the cuts openly. California has a billion deficit while it takes billion dollars to run the state. Under capitalism, the state of California, even in the best of times, must constantly seek loans or sell bonds to finance new projects. As a result of the crisis that both parties authored, the authoritative Standard and Poor’s rating service lists California risk as equal to a risky junk investment. This means that additional tens billions in debt financing that will have to be paid over time.

The Enron Contracts Signed By Advocates of Deregulation

So where did all the money in the State Treasury go? Some of it is going to pay for the high rates negotiated by Governor Davis in negotiations with Enron. Even though these contracts were fraudulently negotiated, they must still be paid according to capitalist law! These business deals, leveraged against the state by a corporation whose then-Board of Directors is littered with top Republican offices, are still being paid. Capitalist objectives are served first by the capitalist state. Education, healthcare and other essential services are considered a low priority. The debt comes first, as does elevating the capitalist credit rating, which Governor after Governor lives and dies to protect.

So is Davis simply a victim of Enron? No. His party, the Democrats along with the Republicans, worked hand and glove to “deregulate” the selling of energy in the state. Even the labor union bosses representing electrical workers supported deregulation. (This is in line with "business" unionism as opposed to "class struggle" unionism, which fights capitalism.) In contrast a workers party would fight to nationalize these vital firms and place them under the control of the one class that has no interest in manipulating the energy market: the working class.

California government has a particular straight jacket, one that the Democrat leaders use as a convenient excuse and Republicans revere as a holy cow: Proposition 13. Since 1978, Proposition 13 artificially limits the tax assessment of real estate and other property. This rightwing populist measure has strangled the ability of local governments in particular to collect taxes, which is the main base of funding local social services and education from kindergarten though high school. As a direct result it has created a wider disparity between rich and poor school districts, a disparity the Democrats have been unwilling to challenge at the root: the racist system of school funding based on property values.

Every time, the Democrats and Republicans have reinforced social setbacks, which in the end serve the wealthy and enmiserate, (meaning to decrease the standard of living) of the working class. These setbacks could be called short sighted, but the capitalists are keenly aware of the long-term affects, and even more aware of their short-term needs. Wall Street and Washington know that the weakness of the US economy is not an episodic situation—it is long term. They know quite well that they cannot afford the rich layer of benefits once called the “American Dream.” Instead, they are preparing us for a future of “diminished expectations.” This is a future based on a rollback of over one hundreds years of labor and civil rights legislation, endless war on the world and increased indebtedness of the world to US and European banks. Indeed even the unemployment the Democrats are causing with the new budget is part and parcel of this trend: capitalism needs unemployment to assure that there is a steady supply of labor to drive wages down. This increase in unemployment signals that more attacks are on their way. They are cutting state jobs today, to force wages down in the future.

WHAT IS THE POLITICAL SOLUTION FOR THE WORKING PEOPLE OF CALIFORNIA?

Recall Campaign is a Trap!

This choice of “Yes to the Republicans” or “No, let’s keep Gray Davis” is a devilish choice for working people. We are forced to accept a political formula against our own interests. The bosses want us to think there are only two choices: either the Democrats or the Republicans. Both are completely dedicated to making working people pay for this crisis.

But there is a way out: Don’t vote on the Recall, vote only for the second part, the choice for governor, vote for the for Governor, C.T. Weber, who is a union man running on the socialist platform of the Peace and Freedom Party.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans deserve to be thrown out of office by the people. Both have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are sworn enemies of the vast majority of the people of the state of California: the working class. They only time they want to hear from workers is when election time comes. In fact, we have a government for and by the tiny minority that sits atop the great wealth the working class produces. These two parties have always offered us the same choice: its either tweedledum or tweedledee. We say it time for both to take the fall.

The Democrats and Republicans need us to suffer in silence as they privatize and outsource, and make state employees take pay cuts. In September, if the state budget is not passed, they will even slash the wage of every state employee to minimum wage until the budget is passed. The passing of the budget, of course, is nothing more than an elaborate exercise in which they figure out which social program to gut. None of this is in the interest of working people. But they, the traditional twin parties of capitalism have all the power. But this could change quickly once a political party of the working class is organized. Then the multiracial majority, the workers who make this state run, would have a voice, and begin to gain the political experience to run society ourselves.

Both parties are actively assisting the Department of Homeland Security, which is creating a super police agency to stamp out all opposition. They do this whether they are governor, or mayor or senator, or congress member.

Both of these parties supported the imperialist war in Iraq and its bloody occupation today. They use our sons and daughters for this war, a war where our children are hated and shot at for the crimes at the top. The Iraqis are right to fight the military occupation by the U.S. and U.K. The war and occupation is as much an issue for California as it is for the whole country.

We demand an immediate end the occupation and for all troops to come home. Many will be returning to California, where there are not enough jobs to go round. The more billions the government wastes on a hateful occupation and war, the more jobs will disappear. How is the recall or voting against it going to change that? Not one iota. It will only change which party will cash in. These are the real issues working people face every day, and neither party has any solution.

There is no place for the interests of the vast majority of Californians in the ballot as it is presented today. The Republicans say vote “yes”, and the Democrats say vote “no”. We say this is no choice at all. We cannot pick one thief over another. We say out with them all.

Don’t Vote Green

The Green Party in California seems like an alternative to the rotten political system we have. But in this crisis, they have attempted to play in the middle of the war of the parties of the super wealthy. They are even courting Adriana Huffington, a wealthy socialite and former rightwing columnist, who has shifted a little to the left. Their last candidate for governor, Medea Benjamin now argues for a “humanistic” occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, while the U.S. installs puppet regime after puppet regime. Its last candidate for president, Ralph Nader was a union buster and does not even have faith in the existence of the Green party: he recently endorsed a Democrat, Kucinich, for President. And as if that wasn’t cynical enough, Kucinich has admitted that his campaign won’t win the nomination and his campaign is devoted to shoring up the ailing Democratic Party: to do what? Take even more from working people?

The Green’s leaders have proven to be an increasingly reliable ally of the power elite, reliable votes for the Democrats and so tame, that their presence in government no longer seems controversial let alone radical. In fact, the President of the Board of Supervisors, Matt Gonzales in San Francisco is a Green party member, and he has proven himself to be just as hostile to the city unions as any of the sundry Democrats on the Board.

We can show that there are many people who don’t buy the lie that we must chose either the rotten Democrats or the rotten Republicans. Neither party can solve the problems the state of California is in; they have been running this state as their own private estate for over one hundred and fifty years.

Vote Peace and Freedom

The ballot in October does give working people one option to act in our own interests. We have the opportunity to vote for a socialist candidate who is a union man, that being Mr. C.T. Weber of the Peace and Freedom Party. He is running for Governor and it is very important to vote for him.

Why is voting for a small party like Peace and Freedom important? Do we think it will win?

The Peace and Freedom Party offers working people a voice, a voice we can use to shout for socialism, the working class solution—unlike the Democrats and Republicans! We can use that voice, even if it is a minority today, to prove that there is a different solution, and the beginning of the way forward.

Do we think we can win? We will never win if we don't start taking steps away from the dead end solutions offered by the Republicans and Democrats. The Peace and Freedom Party offers us a forum for discussing these ideas to the greatest number of people who are looking for a socialist alternative.

The Peace and Freedom Party is back on the ballot after a lot of hard work. It took several years of campaigns to get voters registered as Peace and Freedom, and it worked. The Peace and Freedom Party now has a deep voter base in the Central Valley, among largely working class Hispanic immigrants due to the vigorous voter registration campaigns. The Peace and Freedom Party is the first party to ever regain its ballot status after loosing it. This bodes well for the future and shows that an explicitly socialist organization can gain a mass base, even in these reactionary times.

The Peace and Freedom Party is the united left slate for the State of California. We hope it becomes the place a mass party of the working class is born, and call its own. Towards this goal, P&FP should call an open conference its own members and all workers’ organizations that support this goal. The purpose of this conference would be to hammer out a program to run on that would empower the working class.

We believe workers need their own party to fight the coming crisis. This recall campaign is part of a new wave of attacks. This party will help give the working class the experience it needs to think of itself as a “class for itself” as Karl Marx wrote. Until then we workers are an appendage of the capitalist system. But we can be the gravediggers of this system of exploitation, and the workers party will be a vital experience toward a revolutionary mass party.

Our power will never be achieve by the ballot alone. We need a revolution to tear this old system of exploitation, racism and oppression down. We need our own party, and we need our own government, a government of the working class, which will organize society on a new basis and end the rule of the corporations, the wealthy and the privileged forever.

This vote is critical since this will be the first time in several years that the Peace and Freedom Party is back on the ballot. We need to educate and organize and reach every worker in California who is ready to fight the system, to break with the Democrats and help build a workers party. We say it is right to join Peace and Freedom today, and to try to make it the part of the political solution for workers.

LESSER EVILISM OR PLAYING THE GAME?

The “Vote No Progressives”,

The “Vote Yes Greens”

Some radicals believe the correct approach to the ballot is to vote “No” and make a stand against the Republicans, who most people think are worse than the Democrats. They say we need to do this in order to “Fight the Right!”

We don’t doubt there are right-wingers behind this Recall plan. But right-wing or not, both the Democrats and the Republicans are ready to take us workers down! People who still work in the Democratic Party, in order to build an alliance with some big liberal, are selling the farm down the river. We have to have a clear view: They ALL HAVE TO GO!

Voting "no" forces the voter to accept the arguments by the Democrats to solve the solution, specifically it endorses the administration of Gray Davis. We reject the giving Gray Davis any support or helping the Democrats continue their well-oiled image machine as the "lesser evil". Support for this lesser evil means endorsing his plan to axe our jobs, cut social welfare programs, and support the occupation, which as Governor Gray Davis and the Democratic party have gone out of their way to show they support. Davis deserves to be thrown out of office, but by the workers, and not by his Sacramento power broker rivals.

Some Greens even foolishly think that we should vote “Yes” and that the people can “take over” the weapon posed at the head of every working Californian. Let’s not pretend: this recall is anything but a well thought out plan by the most reactionary layers of society can be wrenched from their hands and used against them. They bought and paid for this plan; its theirs.

Both the Democrat and the Republican sides of this argument are ready to make us pay for the faltering economy in California. We have to reject them both, and use this total rejection of the politics of the bosses as the basis of a new political stand for the workers.

We have to build a movement based on the working class that can see through to the other side of this ballot. This movement must be steeled in struggle, so that it will not waiver. We will use this opportunity to vote for Peace and Freedom, make our stand for a socialist future, when workers start their own government in the name of the vast majority.

But this recall effort is not a campaign from the working people of this state, but is a power play from one group of elites to another. The working class will be caught holding the bag after the election.

Workers Action Urges Voters to Reject Both the ‘Yes’ and the ‘No’ Vote!

Vote for the Socialist Candidate for Governor,

C.T. Weber, Peace and Freedom Party

Organize Now to Build a Workers Party!

Down with the Government of the Corporations, Bankers and Bosses!

For a Workers Government!

Who we are:

Workers Action is a Trotskyist Group in political sympathy with the Movement for the Refoundation of the Fourth International. We want to build a multiracial revolutionary workers party in the United States. If you like what you read, pass it on to a friend, and get in contact with us to fight back!

Workers Action/San Francisco: sf_adam@rocketmail.com

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