Obama budget proposal includes free community college and more bombs to drop on the Middle East

By Cyryl Ryzak

President Obama delivers a speech flanked by the Joint Chiefs / USA Today

Obama’s proposed new budget that increases government spending, thereby ending the sequester cuts, is the first move, following his State of the Union address, in what perhaps will be the climax of his administration. His plan to increase taxes on the wealthy, close tax loopholes, make community college free, and boost infrastructure investment, will put the White House in an antagonistic position vis a vis the Republican controlled Hill. How this conflict will play out cannot be easily predicted, but one can reasonably assume Obama is hoping that if not spoils, it will bring him glory and maybe seal an image of him as a real progressive and not the “wimp who threw it all away."

As noted before, Obama’s agenda leaves much to be desired, mainly a comprehensive employment policy and a move towards a more progressively funded, universal and inclusionary welfare state. The progressive Independent and not-so-closeted socialist from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, released a report where he proposed a $1.6 trillion investment in infrastructure as the basis of a reconstruction of the American economy. While completely unrealistic as a measure to be passed by Congress, these kinds of proposals could be taken up by a popular mobilization outside of the Washington circus.

More than discouraging, though, is the increase in military spending that will “dollar-for-dollar” match the increase in domestic spending. This, more than his moderation, represents my real disappointment with this incarnation of the President. The rhetoric of the current budget proposal explicitly ties the President’s hopes for “prosperity” with an expansion of the national security state. So behind this veneer of “common sense” and “middle-class economics” lurks a perennial irrationality: militarism, a cancer of our polity. Obama might be matching military and domestic spending dollar for dollar, but ultimately every cent that goes to buy bombs is a cent that could have been used for schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. Internationally, it creates a precedent for all major powers, a situation harmful for world peace, pointing towards a serious escalation of military competition between states.

In order to begin halting the ravages of capitalism and militarism, the Left must first present a less compromised set of reforms based on an expanded public sector, universal social welfare, and drastic cuts in military spending. The looming conflict between Obama and Congress should not distract from the need to build a broad progressive political coalition with a large socialist wing. The example of Syriza acts as an inspiration in this case, even if their particular national conditions are so different from ours. The presence on the international scene of a committed Left party in power, which overcame legacies of dictatorship and isolation to smash both the right and center, can act as a symbol for the revitalization of the Left as a serious force in American politics.


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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)