Communist Party unveils ‘Emergency Relief Unity Program’ to confront crisis
Members of the Communist Party take their agenda to the streets in New York, October 2020. | Courtesy of CPUSA

NEW YORK—A moratorium on evictions or foreclosures, millions of new green jobs through an immediate infrastructure building spree, abolition of student debt, compensation for historical and ongoing racism, a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, and new taxes on the rich. All that and more is in a new emergency relief program just issued by the Communist Party USA.

As Congress stands poised to finally pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan package, the Communist Party has produced its own detailed pandemic economic plan. The party advocates passage of the Biden bill but is also looking beyond it with a list of reforms that go further in addressing the dire straits facing tens of millions across the U.S.

“The pandemic and the crisis…have revealed that the status quo is not sustainable,” the party says in the program. It argues that bold and transformative action is required to “meet the emergency needs of working-class people, especially frontline workers and those suddenly unemployed.”

In what they’re calling a continuation of the “extraordinary fight in the elections” last year, the Communists have assembled a program that takes into account the demands being made by a broad swath of progressive coalitions, unions, and lawmakers—including the Poor People’s Campaign, the AFL-CIO, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

At the program’s launch, CPUSA Political Action Commission chair Joelle Fishman told People’s World that it would take nothing less than “an uprising for a just recovery” to really win what’s needed—a “large-scale government response.” She said it was time for workers and activists to “join with your union, civil rights, and community organizations” to force Washington to act.

On the agenda is an immediate and extended moratorium on all evictions and foreclosures, with rent and mortgage relief for those who’ve lost their jobs or been unable to work due to the pandemic.

The mass crisis of joblessness should be tackled with the declaration of a “climate crisis emergency,” the party says, paired with the allocation of billions of dollars toward rebuilding sustainable infrastructure, guaranteeing “clean water, affordable housing, transit, internet access, and social services…including child care.”

After over half a million deaths from COVID-19, the CPUSA raises the demand for Medicare for All as the first step toward a national public health system that includes everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions, financial means, or immigration status.

The racial disparities that have characterized the coronavirus health plague and the economic depression are another key focus in the Communist program. Compensatory measures to end systemic racism and a declaration that racism itself is a public health crisis are proposed as initial means for dealing with a crisis that has hit “low-wage, Black, Latinx, Native, Asian Pacific persons, and women” the hardest.

For youth, while Congress debates how much student loan debt might be forgiven, the CPUSA argues to delete all of it and institute free higher education. And to keep people employed and social services functioning, Fishman says the Communists advocate “increased aid to states and municipalities.”

As for the question of how to pay for it all? The party proposes a new set of budget priorities for the country that redirects money away from the military budget toward public spending oriented toward human needs. Closing loopholes, eliminating corruption that allowed relief funds to go to major corporations that are not suffering financially, and hiking taxes on the rich and large corporations back to 1960s levels round out the agenda.

The Communist Party’s program targets the “corporate and white supremacist forces” in Congress that it says are trying to obstruct the allocation of funds required to pull the country out of the economic and health crisis.

Fishman zeroed in on the Senate’s arcane rules, in particular, which have frustrated attempts to pass not only the economic relief package but also voting rights improvements and the Equality Act and threaten workers’ priorities like the PRO Act, which would make it easier to join a union.

“It is unacceptable,” Fishman said, “that everything is being obstructed by the minority in the U.S. Senate,” referring to the Republicans and moderate Democrats who have held up forward movement. “The U.S. Senate filibuster and other rules with white supremacist roots must be upended.”

But it’s not just Republicans or coronavirus that are to blame for the crisis, the Communists say. The party’s plan argues that “greed, racism, and war are built into the capitalist system”—a reality only exacerbated by COVID-19 and the unequal economic recovery.

The Communist Party sees the current period as one in which advances can be won, however, in a “united struggle for people and planet before profits.” For Fishman and the CP’s Political Action Commission, the message is: “Call, text, rally, march.”

> Read the Communist Party USA’s full “Principles for an Emergency Relief Unity Program” at CPUSA.org.


CONTRIBUTOR

C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People's World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

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