In the wake of the recent midterm elections, Dr. Rasmus describes how the new Republican controlled Congress is about to develop new policies on behalf of Corporate America, many of which represent a resurrection of past policies of the Bush administration—i.e. old wine in new bottles. Rasmus identifies and explains the likely emerging new policy initiatives in the weeks and months immediately ahead: more corporate tax cuts, accelerated push for free trade for pacific rim countries and europe, immigration reform defined as more policing and fences, rollbacks of environmental protection initiatives (Xl pipeline, industrial plant emissions, public lands fracking, EPA funding, international CO2 limits), Affordable Care Act revisions (more business exemptions, cost shifting to consumers, limits on Medicaid), limits on financial regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act, more aggressive foreign policy action (green light for conflicts and funding of proxies in Syria, US troops to Iraq again, Ukraine (US advisers, special ops, money), NATO push into east Europe (Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia), more freedom of action for NSA spying on US citizens and limits on free speech and assembly. Jack explains how the new emerging policy offensive fits in the four decade long current pro-corporate offensive in America by US government and institutions. Jack provides an historical context for it all and how resistance represents the latest effort in a centuries long struggle by American people to expand and defend their democratic, civil and economic rights since the American revolution period of 1776-1787.
Jack Rasmus takes a look at why Austerity policies were introduced in 2008-09 and why they continue still today, evolving into new forms, despite their proven negative impact on economic recovery. Jack challenges liberal economists like Paul Krugman who lament the continuation of such policies, explaining Liberals don’t understand the purpose and function of austerity policies, which are integral to capitalist recovery strategies since 2008. Austerity is the complement to a primary focus in advanced capitalist economies on monetary policy as the preferred strategy for economic recovery—i.e. central banks’ bailouts of private banks and investors via QE, zero rates, auctions and forward guidelines. While monetary policy is primary, austerity is a necessary complement, Jack explains, to bank bailouts which produce slow, intermittent, and 5-10 year or more economic recovery trajectories. Jack looks at how Austerity has functioned so far in Europe, USA, Japan and now Ukraine, why it has continued and why it will continue, morphing in to new forms. Austerity policy is a class policy and integral to capitalists’ view of how recovery should be engineered, Jack explains. That’s why Krugman and others don’t understand why it continues. (Next week’s show is ‘Back to the Future’, a detailed look at the new Republican Congress’s 10 priorities for the next two years, that are just a rehash and resurrection of George W. Bush policies in new form going forward).
Jack Rasmus gives his initial commentary on the Nov. 4 US midterm elections and what comes next in 2015-16. Prior predictions that Republicans would win at least 7 seats in the Senate have been confirmed (but two more seats, Alaska and Louisiana, most likely to soon go Republican as well. The roots of the ‘shellacking 2’ on Nov. 4 lay in Obama and Democrat policies adopted in summer 2010, Jack explains in detail, as well as Democrat refusal to act decisively since 2012 on immigration reform, youth jobs and education debt, and on union labor issues---the three key constituencies that gave Obama one more chance in 2012 but abandoned him and Democrats last week. Jack contrasts Obama’s midterm 2010 weak response to help ‘main street’ to Roosevelt’s 1934 midterm election decision to press ahead, despite intense business opposition, with ‘bailing out main street’ with his(FDR’s) New Deal announced in 1934 and launched 1935 after Democrats swept their ‘midterms’ in Nov. 1934. Now emboldened Republicans will go on the offensive in 2015-16, Jack predicts, making their past (2010-14)attitudes appear friendly in comparison. More George W. Bush initiatives now return. High on agenda—corporate tax cuts, free trade, deficit cuts, immigration reform mothballing, more support for wars in middle east, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Will Obama stand up and veto and initiate executive action and orders? Don’t count on it. Jack’s prediction: he’ll turn to Clinton ‘triangulation’ (i.e concessions) politics more likely, as Mr. President ‘Jello’ (i.e. stands in place, makes believe he’s moving but doesn’t) likely becomes a Bill Clinton ‘retread’ in final two years. In the second half of show, Jack continues his interview with Mark Dudzic, main organizer of the 1993-2007 ‘labor party’ initiative in the USA. Both discuss what are the lessons of that failed labor party effort, can it ever be revived and, if so, how in practical terms?
Jack Rasmus gives his view and analysis of the likely outcome of next week’s US midterm elections, providing reasons why the Democrats will lose the Senate this time around. The 2014 midterms should be viewed as a continuation of the 2010 midterms he argues: in 2010 the Democrats lost the House of Representatives largely because of failure to address the major economic problems of that preceding summer—with job losses rising, 300,000 monthly housing foreclosures, and falling middle class incomes in 2010 on the eve of the 2010 midterms. Jack argues that, notwithstanding recent reports in the US mainstream press, jobs, housing and incomes have not recovered much today in 2014. 6 million official new hires have been offset by 8 million leaving the labor force; 76% of the new jobs have been part time and temp; and low wage growth has been the norm, as housing has stalled after only half recovery and working incomes continue to decline. The key constituencies that put Obama and Democrats back in office are more discontent today as well: Hispanic and latino voters, students and youth, and union labor in the Midwest have all been greatly disappointed, Rasmus argues. More deportations, rising student debt and poor job prospects for youth, and betrayals of union workers by the administration—coupled with continuing economic stress—will lead to Republican Senate control next week. The key constituencies won’t vote Republican; they will simply stay home and not vote Democrat. Loss of the Senate will lead to new aggressive right wing economic, domestic, and more military oriented foreign policy proposals by the new Republican-Right Wing controlled US Congress, Rasmus notes. (See Rasmus’ recent article, ‘USA Midterm Elections: Past and Present’, posted on the PRN website for more detailed analysis).
Jack Rasmus invites one of the key organizers of the union effort to launch a USA labor party in the 1990s, Mark Dudzic, in the Alternative Vision show’s third weekly show focusing on strategies and tactics for initiating independent political action. Dudzic describes the initial strategy employed by union activists in the early 1990s to launch a bonafide third party in the USA based on the trade union movement. Dudzic describes how the initial ‘labor party advocates’ of 82 union activists and local union officers and staffers launched in Chicago in the early 1990s evolved into the Labor Party Founding Convention in Cleveland in 1996 attended by 1400 delegates. The specific strategies and tactics to form and build a labor party at the time are described by Dudzic, as well as the initial organizational forms of the movement. How those strategies, tactics and organization evolved over time are addressed, as well as how they differ from a ‘Fusion’ party approach used by the ‘working families party’ in New York today. Dudzic also describes how the labor party fared with alliances and running local candidates, what broad social forces initially supported the movement for a labor party in the 1990s, and then changed, leading to its decline beginning in 2000 and after until the official disbanding of the labor party initiative nationwide in 2007. The Labor Party experience raises the question: is a third party, organized from ‘within the union movement’, based upon and relying primarily on support from top union leadership, a viable strategy today for launching independent political action? Subsequent shows in the series will consider more deeply the ‘lessons of the Labor Party’ experience, as well as the experiences of other parties challenging the one Corporate Party (aka Democrat-Republican) in America today. Next Week: interviews and discussions with candidates of successful grass roots local independent elections.
Jack Rasmus invites presidential candidate of the Green Party, Jill Stein, to discuss the second in the series of shows on ‘which way for independent political action’. Jill provides her party’s view of what strategies and tactics are on the agenda today in the USA to engage in independent political action, and how the Green Party’s approach differs from other progressive parties and other approaches that reject a political party form of organization for engaging in independent politics. Jill explains how the Green Party’s strategy is both electoral and orientation toward mass movements, which are expanding and growing on a number of ‘fronts’ in the USA—immigrants, low wage workers, community protests against fracking, anti-police repression, and so forth. The focus of the discussion is not on what’s wrong with the mainstream Republican-Democrat parties. That is assumed to be evident. The focus of today’s show is a discussion on ‘how best to engage in independent political action’—and what strategies, tactics and organizational forms are today most relevant to building independent politics. Next week’s third interview in the 4 part series on independent politics in the runup to the November elections will welcome former lead organizer for the Labor Party initiative that was launched by the AFLCIO in the 1990s, Mark Dudzic. Dudzic will discuss the history of that effort, its successes and eventual failure and whether another Labor Party initiative is on the agenda.
Jack Rasmus invites guests, in the first of four consecutive shows before the midterm US elections, to discuss the necessity of independent political action. Jack and guests today, and in subsequent weeks, will discuss the proposition: ‘What is the Way to Independent Politics in the USA’, where independence means from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Jack has asked guests to assume independent politics is a necessity today more than ever before, and to focus in their remarks on how should independent politics be built in the USA today given actual conditions at present? What are the appropriate strategies and tactics for establishing meaningful independent political action—at either national or local levels. Jack invites long time political and union activists, Jerry Gordon, of the Labor Fightback Network, and Jeff Mackler, of Socialist Action, to kick off the discussion. Both guests discuss recent efforts to launch independent politics in Lorrain, Ohio and in Chicago. (Next week’s guests in Part II of the series will include Jill Stein, presidential candidate of the Green Party, and a representative from the ‘Working Families Party’. In subsequent weeks, guests will include Mark Dudzic, the lead organizer of the effort to launch a ‘labor party’ in the USA in the 1990s; and in the show before the midterm elections, interviews of local independent candidates in cities in the USA who have run and won office in the recent past in local government).
Jack Rasmus explains how the emerging recessions in Latin American economies—especially in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela—are the direct consequence of recent shifting of US economic policies over the past year. Three forces are now converging to drive LATAM economies, especially the big 3 above, into yet another region-wide recession, which almost certainly will now worsen: 1) China’s demand for Latin American commodities, resources, and semi-finished imports is slowing as the China economy itself continues to slow; 2) prior massive free money inflows to Latin America from the US and other advanced economy central banks, which occurred between 2010-13 as a result of USA ‘QE’ and zero rate monetary policies by the US Federal Reserve, are now being reversed—engineering money flows back to the US economy from Latin America and other emerging markets. Meanwhile, a third US policy change is being overlaid on the first two, further exacerbating LATAM economic recessions, in the form of additional negative economic pressure is imposed by the US on Argentina and Venezuela in particular (and potentially Brazil as well pending outcome of elections there) even as their economies slip into recession. Jack explains how shifting US economic policy represents, in effect, efforts by USA policy makers to support a still weak USA economic recovery at the direct expense of emerging market economies, especially in Latin America. The USA has thus now begun ‘exporting’ its economic weakness to other economies, while simultaneously taking advantage of the recessions in Argentina and Venezuela to further destabilize those economies for political purposes as well. Meanwhile, global capitalist economies everywhere have entered a phase where they are attempting to grow their own economies at the expense of their capitalist neighbors, marking a new more desperate stage in the global economy’s flagging recovery.
Jack Rasmus revisits and continues the discussion of the evolution and consequences of Corporate Strategies introduced in the late 1970s-early 1980s (sometimes called Neoliberalism) that continue to evolve and intensify today. In Part II of the discussion on Corporate Strategy in America (for Part 1 see the Alternative Visions show two weeks ago), Jack explains how the destruction of union labor membership since 1980 has also resulted in the near-collapse of collective bargaining as a means workers and unions to raise their wages and standard of living. The transformation of collective bargaining from a tool to benefit Labor to a tool that increasingly benefits management and corporations is explained. The elimination of National Bargaining and Pattern Bargaining in the 1960s-early 1970s and its replacement with Concessions Bargaining—first wages and then benefits— is traced. Unions’ ineffective strategic response to concessions bargaining in the 1990s with the introduction of Maintenance of Benefits Bargaining (MOB)--and the imminent demise of MOB today as corporate America and politicians together cooperate to phase out negotiated pensions and employer health coverage-- is described. The destruction of union membership ranks (Part 1 show) and the ‘inversion’ and destruction of collective bargaining (Part 2 show today) are one and the same event, Rasmus explains, both products of the corporate offensive launched in the 1970s that continues to evolve and gain momentum today. With MOB at a dead end, and concessions bargaining expanding and deepening in the 21st century, workers and unions will have to devise a new approach and strategy to resurrect collective bargaining, Rasmus argues.’ (In Part 3 future show, the political dimensions of the Corporate Strategy will be discussed, as well as Union Labor’s failed political counter strategy response since the 1970s).
Jack Rasmus welcomes environmental activists, Michael Rubin and Glenn Turner, to discuss tomorrow’s major environment movement event, the demonstration in New York City and elsewhere in the USA (and globally) advocating the need for reducing global green house gas emissions to avoid a coming global environmental catastrophe. Jack and guests discuss the significance and the demands of the Sept. 21 events. Jack challenges guests to clarify the demands and future strategic objectives of the USA environmental movement. What comes next, after Sunday? Will the many environmental groups continue to unify or continue after Sunday to lead their separate struggles, only occasionally coming together for demonstrations that make no specific demands for change on the system. Will they unite with other groups and forces outside the environmental community—i.e. unions, community and ethnic groups, student organizations, religious organizations, forming a ‘united front’ to confront the destruction of the environment and ultimately the economy as well? Listen to the lively discussion, as Jack plays ‘devils advocate’ challenging environmental activists to evolve to a higher level of political action.