One aspect of the drive by the super rich to make working people bear the brunt of the new Depression is to attack the social wage. Part of this attack is the serious erosion of public education. This predates the crisis that began in 2007, but the recession that followed has been met with a sharp increase in such attacks. The failure of the federal government to adequately fund public education cascades down to the states and cities, who all cry there is not enough money, so cutbacks are necessary.
In a split decision the United States Supreme Court largely upheld the health insurance law, the Affordable Health Care Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. The key provision upheld by the nine robed reactionaries in a five-to-four split decision mandated that all US citizens have to buy health insurance from the private insurance companies beginning in 2014, or pay a penalty. This approach was originally proposed decades ago by right- wing think tanks as an alternative to national health insurance for all.
The United States Supreme Court has upheld the core provision of Arizona’s vicious anti-immigrant law. The part of the law upheld requires police to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop, for whatever reason, if they “suspect” they are undocumented. Arizona Governor Jan Brewster claims the law would not result in racial profiling. But she is lying through her teeth. Everyone knows that in Arizona, the only grounds for “suspicion” is having brown skin. No white person will be “suspected” of not having papers.
United States President Barack Obama announced on June 15 that deportations of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children would be put on hold for two years. During this time, they could apply for work permits. About 800,000 young people could be affected. To be eligible, these youths must be 30 years old or younger, and have come into the country before they were 16. They must be in school, be high school graduates or military veterans and have no criminal records.
In a much-watched election on June 5, Republican Scott Walker handily defeated Democrat Tom Barrett in a recall election for governor of Wisconsin. Walker is on the right wing of the Republican Party and Barrett on the right wing of the Democrats. Walker was first elected in late 2010. When he took office early last year, Walker launched a drive to smash public worker unions. In response, there were huge mobilisations. Public sector unions went on strike and organised mass demonstrations in the capital city of Madison, the largest of which mobilised 100,000.
Workers in the United States know they are losing ground in the current Depression, as they are watching the rich going in the opposite direction. A decline in real wages comes on top of stagnation of wages in the three previous decades. A new report issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says: “The recent recovery in the United States appears unusual from a historical perspective … with a much stronger rebound in profits relative to labor income.
Anti-war soldiers headed a protest against the NATO summit in Chicago on May 20. Thousands poured through the streets in the largest anti-war demonstration seen in the United States for some time. The turnout was inspired by the Occupy movement that broke out last year, which helped legitimise street protest again. From conflicting accounts, the march involved about 10,000 people. See also: SYRIZA to anti-NATO protesters: 'Bring the war home!'
The announcement by giant US bank JPMorgan Chase that it had lost US$2 billion in a shady deal shows the kinds of financial speculation that led to the 2007-2009 financial collapse continue to steam ahead. It also underscores that both Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Democrat president Barack Obama are in Wall Street’s pocket. As the financial system was collapsing in the waning months of the George W Bush administration, it responded with huge bailouts of banks and other financial institutions.
In a qualitative escalation, the government of President Barack Obama has for the first time used the “war on terror” against socialists in the United States. On September 24, the FBI conducted a series of coordinated early-morning raids at homes and offices in Minneapolis, Chicago, Michigan and North Carolina. The political police seized computers, passports, books, documents, cell phones, photos, financial records, diaries, maps and other materials. In one case, children’s artwork was confiscated.