The Coming Liberal Austerity Program

CUNY students organize against Gov. Paterson's cuts

State and local government budgets for the upcoming fiscal year are a mess. Most states are constitutionally required to balance their budgets every year no matter the economic climate, so a budgetary process that resembles a kabuki dance in fatter years will probably be more like a mosh pit this time around, as legislators and interest groups battle over who gets what from increasingly empty state coffers.

Republicans are typically seen as the party of austerity, and the teabaggy right has been screaming itself red about deficits and other supposed portents of socialism at every opportunity. But since Democrats control all branches of the federal government as well as the governorships and/or legislatures of many states in serious budget trouble, the push for retrenchment in government spending during the lead-up to next year’s elections will sport a noticeably blue tinge.

Even though he correctly rejected John McCain’s nutty advocacy of a government spending freeze during last year’s campaign, it looks like that’s exactly what President Obama is planning to do. “The budget freeze was planned before Democratic setbacks in last week's elections,” the article notes, but recent Democratic election losses “appear to have added urgency to the deficit-cutting drive.”

It’s bad enough that the administration is giving in to conservative paranoia over deficits when government spending is the main thing preventing a full-blown depression, but the apparent fact that they were planning on doing so even if they hadn’t suffered major electoral setbacks is even more depressing. This doesn’t bode well for hopes that the administration will pony up the cash necessary to support strapped state governments in a time of extreme need.

In my own state of New York, the situation is similarly bleak. “I will mortgage my political career” on making massive cuts to education and healthcare programs, said Democratic governor David Paterson just last week. And yesterday, the liberal lions at the New York Times editorial page seconded the call for austerity, singling out New York’s public sector unions for particular scorn: “Democrats are going to have to say no to the unions, especially those representing health care workers, educators and state employees. It is past time for a less-extravagant pension system that is fairer to taxpayers. It is also time to consider layoffs or furloughs of state employees, as other states have done.” How bold!

It’s obvious that something needs to be done to fix state budgets, but the slash and burn approach advocated by conservatives and too many liberals is not just cruel but also economically unsound. There are far better ways this can be done. Time to start organizing, even (especially!) if the people making the cuts have a D next to their name.


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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)