Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Billionaires for Kerry

Socialist Equality Party candidate Bill Van Auken writes about the many multi-millionaire financiers and corporate executives who have endorsed Kerry, and what it means for the next four years. These scions, like Lee Iaccoca (Ford, Chrysler) and August Busch (Budwiser) tout "their support for [Kerry's] campaign as proof that he is a 'responsible' candidate who will protect the interests of American capitalism."

Here's some more from Van Auken:
Also on the list was David Bonderman, a founding partner of the buyout firm Texas Pacific Group. The Fort Worth-based financier made his fortune off the bankruptcies of Continental and American West airlines, and is presently involved in a leveraged buyout bid against Enron. He was a prominent backer of the incumbent both in Bush’s campaign to become Texas governor and in his first run for the presidency.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal from a chartered yacht off the coast of Italy, Bonderman said: “George is really a good guy personally. But his policies are really terrible... He’s turning out to be the worst president since Millard Fillmore—and that’s probably an insult to Millard Fillmore.”

Another former Bush supporter at Kerry’s summit was Owsley Brown, the head of Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniels whisky. He told the Journal: “It’s of course not something done lightly and certainly not for someone like me—a registered Republican all my life.” He added that he was “looking for the kind of leadership that Senator Kerry will bring, certainly in fiscal matters.”
In many cases, those on the list are well known for carrying out precisely the practices—particularly the shifting of operations overseas to capitalize on low wages—that Kerry has denounced on the campaign trail. Understandably, Kerry did not reprise the protectionist demagogy about “Benedict Arnold corporations” that he employed during the primaries.
Over and over again, the platform’s section on the economy vows that a Kerry administration will confront the challenge of capitalist globalization with a drive to renew “American competitiveness” in world markets. It says a Kerry administration will be committed to “strengthening our workers’ ability to compete” and states the Democrats’ belief that “our companies can keep and create jobs in America without sacrificing competitiveness.”

The thrust of this argument is that American workers must subordinate themselves to the drive to make American capitalism more globally competitive. Under conditions in which the economy is dominated by transnational corporations capable of moving production from continent to continent almost at will, this can only mean submitting to cuts in wages, benefits and working conditions in order to narrow the gap between the conditions of American workers and those who face the most brutal forms of exploitation—from Mexico to Eastern Europe to India.

There is doubtless sentiment among some within the financial elite that Bush and his administration have become too discredited among working people to impose further sacrifice and austerity without provoking social unrest.
Most economic analysts have concluded that the pledge to reduce the deficit is incompatible with Kerry’s modest plans for expanding health care programs. There is also widespread skepticism about the ability of a Kerry administration to reverse tax cuts in the face of stiff opposition from the Republicans.

Kerry has repeatedly stated that the Pentagon’s swollen budget—$416 billion this year—will be untouchable. Every program already on the books—including the “Star Wars” missile defense scheme—will go through. Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate has said he is prepared to keep US troops in Iraq for at least another four years, guaranteeing hundreds of billions of dollars more in military expenditures.

Given this commitment to militarism and the inevitable stonewalling of any attempt at a significant reversal of tax cuts, a Kerry administration would rapidly confront a severe fiscal crisis. It would inevitably jettison its health care proposals and respond with budget-cutting measures that would effectively demolish what remains of the social programs and benefits implemented from the 1930s to the 1960s.
The extreme right-wing leadership in the Republican administration and Congress has deliberately stoked the US fiscal crisis, calculating that federal insolvency will compel the next government to gut social welfare programs—in particular Social Security—no matter who occupies the White House in 2005.

Putting a Democrat, backed by the union bureaucracy, in the White House to carry out a scorched earth policy of social cuts has a definite appeal to more far-sighted elements within the financial elite. They believe that a Democratic administration would be better able to stave off, at least temporarily, a wave of social unrest against both the war in Iraq and the deteriorating economic situation at home.

The embrace of Kerry by significant sections of big business must serve as a warning: no matter which party controls the White House, 2005 will see an escalating attack on jobs, living standards and basic democratic and social rights. If Kerry is elected, the Democrats’ limited campaign promises will soon evaporate, and his administration’s policies will be driven by the crisis of American capitalism and the demands of the financial oligarchy.
Not even Van Aucken, who is himself running for president, suggests that there is really a better alternative available to us at this point than voting for Kerry. What he's doing, and what I'm trying to do, is to dispel any illusions people may have about what we're facing. Kerry will be better than Bush. But will he be any good? Let's do what we can to push him in that direction.