Trump administration continues reactionary offensive

woman anti trump protest san francisco
Millions of women throughout the US marched on 21 January in opposition to Trump

Donald Trump’s presidency continued along its eventful and regressive path in the two months covering the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, starting with the progression of the Republican tax cut bill into law and ending with the Democrats caving in on immigration issues. Steve Palmer reports.

Let’s review events. The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act was passed and signed into law by President Donald Trump on 20 December 2017. The Act cuts the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. It includes special concessions for ‘pass-through businesses’, which include many property companies, such as those owned by Trump, who is likely to benefit personally by hundreds of millions of dollars. The tax cut generally redistributes income from the poor to the rich – and will increase the federal deficit, which currently stands at about $20 trillion, by some $1.5 trillion.

There were reports in early December, denied by spokespersons, that the White House was establishing its own spy network to circumvent official US intelligence agencies. The network has been promoted by Oliver North, the right-wing marine who was a lynchpin in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan presidency, and the Amyntor Group, a private corporation which engages in ‘crisis management’ (ie operates mercenaries). The proposal includes the privatised rendition of ‘hostile assets’, ie kidnapping and torturing.

Trump’s administration continued its warm relationship with Zionists by pledging to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, violating a previous position of neutrality on the respective claims of both Palestinians and Israelis on the city as their capital. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was furious that anyone dare oppose US policy on Israel, saying she was ‘taking names’ of countries supporting a 21 December resolution against US recognition of Jerusalem.

The administration also waived any punishment for banks convicted of attempting to rig LIBOR, a key interest rate. These included Deutsche Bank, to which Trump owes more than $130m. Trump subsequently appointed Geoffrey Berman, who has had close business ties with Deutsche Bank, and Robert Khuzami, the bank’s ex-general counsel, as the prosecutor and deputy prosecutor for Manhattan, where Trump Tower is, after personally interviewing them. This is an almost unprecedented step, particularly given that Trump businesses might well be investigated by the Manhattan prosecutor’s office.

In early January Trump responded hysterically to revelations in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The book is based on interviews with dozens of administration officials, but despite the excitement this has provoked among liberals, it is actually quite boring – it’s hardly a revelation that Trump is an incompetent racist misogynist. Wolff simply piles on the evidence, as if we needed any more. Most people, when they see a pile of manure, walk round it, but liberals seem to have a need to roll around and wallow in it. As we pointed out in FRFI 261, the real story is not the daily scandals about Trump, but the reactionary measures the US ruling class is taking while the fascist clown is shocking pundits. Trump’s lawyer sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to the book’s publisher, who immediately brought forward the publication date and increased the print run. Over 1.7 million copies have been sold, a political event in its own right. This is more books in three weeks than Trump’s own The Art of the Deal in three decades. In a final, farcical flourish, Trump tweeted that he was a ‘very stable genius’.

Democrats sell out Dreamers

As January drew to a close, we witnessed the great federal shutdown debacle. The Democrats claim to be fighting for the ‘Dreamers’, the young people who – under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme (DACA) – as undocumented immigrants brought to the United States in their youth, were exempted from deportation for two years and could obtain work permits, renewable upon good behaviour. DACA is set to expire, with no alternative in sight. The Democrats refused to pass a ‘continuing resolution’, which would have funded the federal government, unless a solution to the demise of DACA was found. On Friday 19 January the US federal government shut down from midnight. When this happens, most government services are frozen, barring those that are deemed ‘essential’, such as the work of the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. Nearly 40% of the government workforce is placed on unpaid leave.

Fingers were pointed in all directions, but the Democrats had engaged in an unprincipled attempt to bargain the continuance of DACA in exchange for supporting Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall. With the bargain rejected (the White House claimed it had never been offered), the Democrats grasped at straws offered by the Republicans. Having marched their troops up the hill, the Democrat leadership marched them back down, voting to reopen the government in exchange for… a promise. The Dreamers need more than promises – they need action to lift the threat of deportation. The Democrats, for all the rhetorical flourishes, finger pointing and drama, have sold them down the river.

The one inspiring event was the mobilisation of millions of women throughout the US and internationally on 21 January, the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, to mobilise resistance to Trump and to raise women’s issues, such as the #MeToo movement. Instead of twittering about Trump’s flaws, his critics must join with the resistance to show mass opposition to the Trump administration’s reactionary programme.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 262 February/March 2018


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