It’s still the economy

A Los Angeles Times poll taken last December shows overwhelming support for an economic agenda focused on spending for improvements to the country’s infrastructure (53 percent) rather than an agenda focused on tax cuts (39 percent).

Add to that the 25-point decline in George W. Bush’s popularity since last January and it’s clear that there is an objective base to challenge economic policies that have added some two million workers to the unemployment rolls, more millions to the ranks of the poor and those without health care and threaten the ability of state and municipal governments to provide for people’s needs.

These shifts in public opinion – and they are bound to continue – have already found their reflection in Congress and organizations such as the National Governors Association and the National League of Cities. But that concern has not yet been crystallized into a coalition of forces strong enough to replace Bush’s Economic Growth and Job Creation program with a program that meets the crisis facing working class families.

Conservative estimates place the collective state budget deficit at more than $60 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1 – a sure recipe for layoffs and cuts in social service programs. In our judgment the search for a solution to that crisis will provide the framework for building a winning coalition and help set the stage for the 2004 elections.

That requires a shift in national priorities – and a battle over the federal budget. Money that goes to tax breaks for the rich cannot go to the states to provide Medicaid. If it goes to increase military spending it cannot be used to improve public education. Nor is there any reason to believe that increased military spending will provide security for the American people.

Key to a pro-people’s economic program is defeating Bush’s tax breaks, rolling back military spending, providing money to the states to prevent layoffs and cuts in social services.

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Fight for Roe v. Wade

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that struck down state laws that made abortion illegal. It was the upsurge of the women’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s that created the pressure on the Supreme Court to make its historic Roe v. Wade decision.

Now that the Bush administration is going toe-to-toe with the women’s movement and its supporters in an aggressive plan to place in office right wing judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade. It’s worth taking a look at the full significance of those vicious anti-abortion laws.

Over the years, laws restricting abortion resulted in the horrible maiming and deaths of millions of women who were denied medical services. Laws against abortion were enacted in the last few centuries with the rise of capitalism, but they never had anything to do with “right to life.” Rather, laws restricting abortion serve to criminalize and stigmatize the normal, inevitable and distinctly human actions of women in controlling their reproductive lives.

These laws are a centerpiece in capitalism’s repressive ideological framework; they effectively marginalize women, who, of course, make up an enormous section of the working class. Other pieces of that repressive framework include restrictions on contraception and sex education, bars to education and employment opportunity and the elimination of social responsibility for children.

The legal and ideological framework of second class citizenship for women sets the stage for the legitimization of lower wages, poorer working and conditions and rights on the job for women, anti-family government policies, disunity in the working class and, inevitably, higher corporate profits. In that sense, anti-abortion laws are part of a pattern of repressive and anti-democratic legislation and practices like racial profiling, anti-immigrant and anti-gay laws.

Because the struggle for women’s equality and dignity is fundamental to turning back the corporate offensive, Bush’s attack on Roe v. Wade demands the strongest possible counter-offensive by all progressive forces.

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