A recovery in profits, not wages

The Bush administration must be thinking the U.S. is a nation of ingrates. The economy is humming along so nicely, they say. Why then has George W. Bush’s approval rating plummeted to only 41 percent? And 65 percent believe the nation is on the “wrong track.”

Maybe the people interviewed in those polls have just taken out a second mortgage to gas up the family car. Maybe they are struggling with an 11 percent increase in their children’s college tuition, or double digit inflation in health care and prescription drugs.

Millions remain in the ranks of the long-term unemployed and many of the newly employed have been forced to accept a low-wage job with meager benefits. The polls show a deep worry that this Bush “recovery” might be sunk by rising inflation and vanishing purchasing power.

A report by the Economic Policy Institute released May 27 points out that corporate profits skyrocketed 62.2 percent since the recovery began but wages are up a pitiful 2.8 percent, less than the increased cost of living.

“This is the fastest rate of profit growth in a recovery since World War II,” the report states. “(T)he growth in profits combined with a drop in wages and salary income suggest that the recovery has a narrow base with most American consumers only able to increase their purchasing power through debt. Wage growth is not just fair, it is also necessary for a more sustainable recovery.”

But you will never convince Bush of that. His so-called economic recovery is fueled by a huge transfer of income from the pockets of working people to the coffers of corporations and the super-rich.

Recent strikes by grocery workers and SBC telephone workers prove that working people are ready to fight for jobs, living wages, pensions and health care. They are fighting with one hand tied behind their back as long as Bush is in the White House.

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Victory for women and reproductive freedom

Federal District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled June 1 that the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Ban is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. In her ruling, Hamilton wrote that the “act poses an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose an abortion,” a point that women’s groups and civil liberties advocates had made from the beginning.

On March 29 three federal courts began hearing legal challenges to the ban, which Congress passed in October 2003 and President Bush signed in November. The law defines the term “partial-birth abortion” so broadly that it would prohibit a wide range of abortions performed in the second trimester. It fails to safeguard women because it does not contain an exception to protect their health.

This law is not about abortions performed late in pregnancy. Supporters of the law used misleading rhetoric to mask the fact that the law bans safe and medically-appropriate abortions as early as 12 to 15 weeks and is part of the Bush administration’s larger agenda to outlaw all abortions. In fact, Hamilton, in her strongly worded opinion, accused Congress of having done just that – misrepresenting scientific facts in order to ramrod this first-ever federal ban on abortion.

“Judge Hamilton’s decision reaffirms a woman’s right to choose and a doctor’s right to practice medicine,” said Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

However, the fight against the ban is not over. Two more cases are pending in U.S. district courts. Those rulings are expected later this summer. Judge Hamilton’s ruling gives women reason to be hopeful but as we’ve seen over and over again, the Bush administration will stop at nothing to push through its agenda.

It’s important to remember this ruling comes after the historic women’s march, where over 1 million people turned out to support reproductive freedom. With unity and struggle, victories are possible.