ELN Calls for Actions on December 3-10 [2011] to Preserve & Expand the Social Safety Net

No Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Other Social Programs; This is “Ground Zero” in the Fight Against the Wall Street Dictatorship!

The clock continues to tick.

In late September, the Emergency Labor Network issued a strong warning: Either the labor movement and its community allies take to the streets in massive numbers to protect and expand our vital safety net programs — or we risk deep cuts to these programs.

The dire emergency about which we warned is now just around the corner. In less than one month, the Super Committee of 12 members of Congress (six Democrats, six Republicans) will issue its proposals for $1.2 trillion in cuts (or possibly much more!) over the next 10 years to the social safety net — including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These cuts are part of the deal approved by Congress at the behest of Wall Street and the debt-credit agencies just hours before the August 2 deadline on the debt-ceiling negotiations.

On December 23, Congress is scheduled to vote “yes” or “no” on the Super Committee’s proposals for additional cuts with no amendments allowed.

At this writing, the Super Committee remains deadlocked over the issue of raising tax revenue, as requested by the president and the Democrats. If the Super Committee fails to get a majority vote on its proposals, a built-in trigger mechanism will come into play, and drastic cuts will be made across the board to military spending, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants for students, home heating assistance, nutrition programs, and help for the disabled and the homeless. Vice President Joe Biden announced that $400 billion to $500 billion could be cut in Medicare and Medicaid funding alone.

And if the Super Committee’s recommendations are approved by Congress, it will also result in severe cuts to the safety net programs. Either way, over 100 million people will be hurt economically, in their health care and in their retirement security. We must reject all the scenarios now being discussed because each of them leads to the same unacceptable and inevitable result: takeaways of benefits that people have worked a lifetime to earn.

That is why we must call for repeal of the August legislation, which gave birth to the undemocratic and unconstitutional “Super Committee” creation. We must demand instead that legislation be passed increasing the debt ceiling without all the takeaways attached to it, as has been done by Congress repeatedly in the past. And if Congress refuses to go this route and ends up enacting legislation with cuts in federal benefits, then we must demand that Obama veto the bill.

This is a matter of life and death. As Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders pointed out, if Congress is able to go ahead and decimate the existing safety net, “there is no question in my mind that many more thousands of men, women, and children will die.”

This is no exaggeration. Medicaid alone impacts the lives of 58 million low-income recipients and their family members, with 49% of Medicaid recipients being children. If people on Medicaid lose their benefits, the results will be greater illness and disability, increased poverty, and even death.

All of this will fall most heavily on African Americans and workers of color, who are disproportionately impacted by the racist, sexist and anti-immigrant policies used by corporate greed to super-exploit and divide the working class.

We Can Stop the Cuts!

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets nationwide over the past weeks in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement to protest against the economic inequality, uneven tax structure, bank bailouts and corporate greed that have brought this country to its current economic crisis. A growing number of unions are supporting and participating in this movement. At the same time, more and more activists are challenging the double-digit unemployment of Black and Latino workers and the increased racist attacks on Black people and immigrant workers.

There is a new fightback mood sweeping the country. Working people, youth, the unemployed are all saying, “They’ve Been Bailed Out, We’ve Been Sold Out! — “Enough Is Enough!”

Sentiment to stop the cuts is widespread within the labor movement.

On September 26, the San Francisco Labor Council adopted a resolution calling upon the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, National Education Association and other independent unions to “join together to call an emergency mass mobilization … to demand no cuts in benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid recipients, including for future generations. To the contrary, these programs need to be strengthened and expanded, not undermined.” A similar resolution was approved by U.S. Labor Against the War.

On October 19, the New York Central Labor Council voted to mobilize on November 5 to affirm that “Working People Shouldn’t Pay for a Crisis That They Didn’t Make!” and to demand (1) No to Layoffs, Budget and Service Cuts!; (2) Create Jobs, Build Infrastructure with a Federal Program of Public Works!; and (3) Stop Police Harassment of the Wall Street Occupation!

The National Nurses Union, which last July called on the Congress to “reject the flawed debt-ceiling deal,” continues to mobilize to demand an immediate halt to “all federal cuts in job programs, health-care, education, retirement security, housing, and nutrition assistance.”

Working people and all the oppressed have shown that they are ready and eager to fight back. But what is urgently needed is for the trade unions, our community allies, and the Occupy Wall Street movement to decide that an all-out fight must be waged to stop the cuts to the social safety programs contrived by the politicians doing the bidding of corporate America. To underscore the seriousness of this situation, a Teamster unionist commented that we are now at “Ground Zero in the fight against the Wall Street dictatorship.”

There could be no bigger blow to the plans of the banksters and Wall Street operatives than to stop and reverse the cuts to our cherished social programs.

Mobilize December 3-10 to Stop the Cuts!

The Emergency Labor Network urges our supporters across the country to do every thing in their power to move their labor and community organizations into action during the week of December 3-10 to save and expand the social safety net programs.

We urge union members to submit resolutions to their labor organizations, which will call for setting times and places for demonstrations during this Week of Actions demanding “No Cuts!” and with top union officials and national leaders of the labor movement copied and urged to provide leadership. Forming “No Cuts Committees” in local unions and building community coalitions against the cuts can help ensure that resolutions and actions are carried out .

If you believe that massive mobilizations must be organized demanding “No Cuts!”, we ask that you let us know. An endorsement form is provided on our website at http://www.laborfightback.org. Please direct questions to 216-736-4715, or email emergencylabor@aol.com or write ELN, P.O. Box 21004, Cleveland, OH 44121.

In solidarity,

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