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AltAusterity Digest #34 February 8-14, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Feb 16, 2018

An editorial from The Guardian highlights the impacts of austerity at the local level in England. The austerity agenda is transferred to the local level as central government grants have been significantly reduced, local business taxes are controlled in Whitehall, and there remains a cap in council tax. The centralization of power in Britain, and specifically England, has allowed the national Conservative’s austerity policies to have a severe impact on local social spending. In an extreme case, the Northamptonshire local council has become so strapped for money that they have banned all new spending.

In a piece for Social Europe, Asbjørn Wahl examines the current crisis social democracy, with specific reference to the Nordic situation. At the centre of Wahl’s argument is the changing role of social democratic parties, which moved from being representatives of working class interests, to an administrator of the class compromise. While various social democratic parties have had some success in this role from the 1930s to the 1970s, the resumption of capitalist crisis undermined their position.  Wahl explains that as neoliberalism become the dominant political-economic force, social democratic parties tried to maintain the class compromise, in turn changing their social basis, and presenting the left with a political crisis.

Analysis prepared for the Alberta School Boards’ Association (ASBA) by Western Management Consultants says that Alberta superintendents experienced a 10% pay increase over three years while teachers wages were frozen. The report also found that the highest-paid Alberta superintendent was paid nearly double the amount of their Ontario counterpart. These wage increases occurred as Alberta worker’s earnings slumped and unemployment rose.

Confronted with declining popularity and a loss of seats, the Republicans are continuing their push for tax cuts and dismantling public spending. Aside from reductions to budgets, the Republicans are also trying to introduce new requirements and regulations for public spending. The Trump budget proposal shows plans to cut Medicare by $554 billion, Medicaid by $250 billion and food stamps by $214 billion over the next decade.

Further, the Washington Post has released an infographic detailing the changes in expenditure to each government department. While the EPA, Small Business Administration, State Department, Transportation, Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Labour, Education, Treasury, and Justice Departments will all see cuts, NASA, Energy, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Defense and Veterans Affairs will all see increased spending.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!