Both the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns responded in unity, thankfully, to John McCain’s speech recently on economic policy. McCain’s economic policy can be easily summarized: “More time for more of the same, just like in Iraq”: Continuation, even expansion, of the huge Bush tax breaks for corporations and Wall Street with no relief for the working class.

McCain is under the weird impression that the Bush tax policy “rescued” us from the 2000 recession while, in fact, it did not rescue workers at all. Median income continued to fall as the Bush tax policy set the stage for the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

An Obama spokesman said: “Senator McCain’s economic plan offers no change from George Bush’s failed policies … a gift basket of new tax cuts for corporate America at a time when some CEOs are making more in a day than some workers make in a year.’

A Clinton spokeswoman said, “John McCain promises straight talk, but his speech today is really doubletalk. Senator McCain spoke about the excesses of companies like Countrywide. But what he fails to mention was that Countrywide will receive a new $500 million tax cut under his plan.’

This is good but under taunting from Bush and Republicans to “do something” about the mortgage crisis, and after enormous lobbying pressure, Democratic Sens. Chris Dodd and Max Baucus have now endorsed a grossly misnamed “Foreclosure Prevention Act.” This bill, originally a positive one, is now a bailout for banks.

It’s “our biggest legislative effort since the Tax Reform Act of 1986,”one home-building lobbyist said. Not just home-builders, but retailers, manufacturers, mortgage companies and others are piling on. Thousands organized by these interests flooded offices of congressmen over spring recess. Those with lobbying power are diverting a mass upsurge to save homes into a golden opportunity to feast at the public trough.

Consumer and labor groups are trying to be heard: “The Senate legislation gives corporations and Wall Street billions in tax breaks,” said Terence M. O’Sullivan, the president of the Laborers International Union. “Tax breaks for corporate home builders won’t help stabilize the housing market, won’t create jobs and won’t prevent a single foreclosure….If anything, this multibillion-dollar windfall will make things worse.”
The question is: How did this legislative back flip happen?

The answer is clear. Popular forces are simply not yet sufficiently organized to counter the pressure of corporate lobbyists on Congress. There are many progressive reforms that could address the crisis: moratoriums on foreclosures; bans on evicting families that can pay fair-market rent and resetting of mortgage terms, to name a few. But the key task is for homeowners, renters, and their elected representatives to organize in their communities, and nationally, to begin the bargaining process with banks, developers and mortgage companies. And derail McCain’s Doubletalk express!

Transforming the massive turnouts at the polls into organized power is not just a left-wing aspiration. Given the unprecedented spreading economic crisis and the inevitable connections between global economic crisis and war, this is becoming a matter of life and death. When McCain proposed “another 100 years in Iraq,” he exposed the dimensions of his own “neo-con” madness. But add global economic depression to this demonic fantasy, and we will find ourselves invaded by a cancer equivalent to that which gives rise to World Wars, a cancer outside the reach of any therapies other than blood, ashes and sand.

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