This resolution was adopted unanimously by the membership of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States at its Sixth National Congress, which was held online from July 19 to July 24, 2020.
Part 5 - Six months of the pandemic: Results and Prospects
56. Six months after the COVID-19 virus was first detected, it is spreading throughout the United States. Earlier talk about the potential dangers of a second wave of the pandemic in the fall have given way to the realization that the first wave has not been brought under control and is still wreaking havoc throughout the country. Even the broadcast media has become far more cautious and sparing in its use of stock phrases, heard so often in April and May, such as “glimmers of hope,” “turning the corner” and “light at the end of the tunnel.” The most recent official estimate of fatalities is that 225,000 Americans will succumb to the disease by November—a figure that will prove in all likelihood to be well below the actual toll.
57. Despite the fact that the ruling oligarchy subordinated all considerations of public health to protecting Wall Street investors, the economic situation is becoming increasingly desperate. The spectacular rise in the stock market, since the passage of the CARES Act in March, has been a speculative phenomenon unrelated to any recovery of the real economy. But concern is being voiced in financial circles that the Federal Reserve’s digital money printing cannot go on forever, and that its actions are increasingly ineffective. The Financial Times recently warned of “the limits of Fed power:”
This spring’s remarkable actions undoubtedly delivered a positive jolt to the economy. But it will be extremely difficult for the Fed to deliver a similar shock to sentiment again anytime soon; we are now in the territory of incremental action. And the Fed cannot plug the ever-widening holes in the balance sheets of insolvent companies, replace lost consumer demand or reverse all job cuts. Even fiscal support can probably only delay, not remove, the pain.
To understand this, consider airlines. This spring, US carriers received fiscal support and pledged in exchange to not cut staff until October 1. But in the past two weeks, Delta has announced 17,000 early retirements and United sent furlough notices to 45 percent of its US employees.
58. The first half of the year has been dominated by the response of the ruling class to the pandemic. The response of the working class will come to the forefront in the second half. The disastrous consequences of the ruling class’ policies have delivered a staggering blow to the legitimacy of the capitalist system. The corporate response to economic collapse—mass layoffs, wage-cutting, demands for the further slashing of expenditures for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other vital and already underfunded social programs—will meet with growing resistance in the working class. Opposition will mount to working in unsafe conditions and to school re-openings that facilitate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. There will be opposition to evictions and foreclosures. Therefore, the Socialist Equality Party foresees an immense growth of working class struggle, which, through the intervention of the party, will assume a politically class conscious and anti-capitalist character.