By Stephen Boyd
THE FIANNA Fail and Green government would like you to believe that the budget has hit everyone equally, but this is a bared-faced lie. The two budgets we’ve had so far in 2009 have cost the “average family” approximately €7,000 a year. Every section of the working class and middle class were hit by the budget.
The 1.3 million receiving social welfare, who are already struggling to survive have had their income cut by 2% with the scrooge-like scrapping of the Christmas bonus. The unemployed were also hit by a reduction in rent allowance, with newly unemployed under 20s being told they must survive on €100 a week!
All workers from the working poor up to those on decent wages have been hit by a doubling of the income and health levies, some facing the extra burden of increased PRSI payments as well.
The limiting of mortgage interest relief (which will eventually be scrapped) will cost people with modest mortgages between €100 – €200 a month. The halving and scrapping of the childcare supplement will hurt many low-income families who have come to depend on this money.
For public sector workers, the budget was a double whammy piling more tax hikes on top of the recent pension levy/pay cut.
Yet the multinationals who exported nearly €60 billion in profits in 2007 were not asked for a single extra cent! Big business got off scott-free.
To add insult to the injury of the dramatic cut in all of our living standards, the government has decided to give the banks and the super-rich speculators a potential bail out of up to €90 billion of our money!
Whereas the billionaire and multimillionaire tax dodgers and those who benefit enormously from the so-called tax shelters have yet to be touched, the rest of us face our budget changes from 1 May.
The alternative was to make the rich pay for the crisis by introducing a progressive tax system that targets the profits of big business and the wealth of the super-rich.
The budget also contained another €1.5 billion of public spending cuts. These cuts have yet to be outlined but will once again hit vital public services such as health, education, housing and services to the old and disadvantaged – services that are already over-stretched and trying to come to terms with the cutbacks of November’s budget.
Unfortunately for working class people, the so-called “emergency budget” is just the first instalment of a four-year plan of tax increases and public service cutbacks. That’s the future we have been promised – 500,000 unemployed with at least four more years of tax hikes and cutbacks!
Brian Lenihan said that in the next two budgets they plan to introduce the taxation of child benefit, cuts in social welfare, a property tax and significantly higher tax increases for all workers.
Fine Gael protested that the government hasn’t cut spending enough! Labour has criticised the budget but in reality are only squabbling over the scale of the cuts and the tax increases – they too argue that working class and middle class people must pay for the crisis.
The unions should walk away from “social partnership” and harness the opposition and anger against the government into a major campaign of industrial action and protest to defeat this budget and stop the jobs slaughter and widespread pay cuts.
The crisis in Ireland is far deeper than in many other countries reflecting the damage done to the economy by the craven greed of the property developers and speculators who were fully facilitated in their speculative debauchery by Fianna Fail and the banks.
But in Ireland, as in the rest of the world, this recession represents the failure of the market. The market has failed to deliver any of what was promised. Capitalism isn’t working and the Socialist Party believes that the only way to guarantee decent jobs for all in a society with first class health and education systems is to get rid of capitalism. We must replace this failed system which puts the profits of the rich before everything with a social system that puts the needs of people first.
On 5 June where you can, you should reject the parties responsible for the recession and also those who think we should pay for the crisis and vote for Socialist Party candidates in the Local and European elections.