News Release

Big Economic Picture: · Budget · Transit Strike


Author of the book The War at Home: The Domestic Costs of Bush’s Militarism, Piven is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Her past books include The Breaking of the American Social Compact.

She said today: “Even as the lies and hype that justified the administration’s war policy dissipate, the Republican budget policy is being pushed forward. The core policy is clear: tax cuts for the rich, spending cuts for the poor, even poor children, and escalating spending on military, no matter how urgent our needs at home become. The greed and irresponsibility in command in Washington was obscured for awhile by the fear and excitement of war. But now that Americans are beginning to see past the fog of war, they are likely also to begin to see the recklessness of these domestic policies.”
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An economist with the Economic Policy Institute, Sawicky said today: “What’s in process now are pointless cuts in safety net programs of $40 billion and small, fake cuts in military. The military cuts of about $5 billion (out of a total military budget of $450 billion) will likely be restored in the Spring with the so-called ‘Supplemental Appropriations,’ which is the vehicle for Congress’ second annual ride on the budget merry-go-round. Any illusions of deficit reduction should be dispelled because with the other hand, the Congress plans to cut taxes by over $90 billion.”
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Ness is professor at Brooklyn College and editor of Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society. He is working on an encyclopedia of strikes in America.
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Available for a limited number of interviews, Daniels is executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He said today: “At a time when labor is on the decline, the transit workers union put their strike in a framework of social justice and civil rights for all working people. They tied their strike to the general assault on pension plans and healthcare, as well as to the security of the next generation of workers. The ultimate absurdity was [New York City mayor] Bloomberg — a billionaire — calling the transit workers ‘selfish’ and ‘thuggish.’ It’s racist. I doubt that he would have called a primarily white union thuggish, but the transit workers are largely African American, Caribbean, Asian and Latino.”
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Director of public policy with the Central Labor Council in New York City, Ott said today: “There has been a widespread sense that labor has been going backwards, that things were being given back which took a century to build. The transit workers tapped into that.”
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Editor of Labor Notes, Kutalik said today: “There has been an uptick in strikes the last several months after a prolonged concessionary period with large-scale givebacks by unions. Some of these seem to be desperation strikes. There has been a sustained attack on defined benefit pensions, and unions have let that happen. Unions getting things like pensions helps other workers; it holds the line in terms of wages and benefits — and other workers have an interest in keeping that up.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167