Thursday, March 13, 2014

What A Real Budget Looks Like... When No One Takes Ayn Rand Fairy Tales Into Account


This year's Congressional Progressive Caucus alternative budget, the Better Off Budget, was developed by Mike Honda (D-CA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). Obviously, it's a complex document. The goal, as far as I can tell so far, is to stimulate the economy with the express purpose of creating 8.8 million new jobs between now and 2017, while shaving $4 trillion from the nation;s deficit. Investing in the American people is the theme. All of that is completely foreign to the Austerity budgets Paul Ryan has been introducing. Madison's Mark Pocan never took his mind off ordinary working families in Wisconsin when he was working on it. When it was released he told me "Unlike past Ryan budgets our Better Off Budget helps ease the pain ordinary working families face every day under the Ryan Budget’s draconian austerity agenda by investing in job creation and training, and proven anti-poverty programs. The day Paul Ryan offers a budget that actually helps lift up Americans out of poverty is the day I’ll join him for a P90X workout." Here's how Grijalva explained the budget to his constituents in Tucson:
During our economy’s best decades, Congress invested in the American workforce and every family was better off for it. But recent years have been dominated by growing inequality and a Republican majority in Congress obsessed with slashing the budget, making it harder for working Americans to find decent jobs and save for the future. The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Better Off Budget reverses the damage budget austerity has inflicted on hard-working families and restores our economy to its full potential by creating 8.8 million jobs by 2017.

The Better Off Budget reverses harmful cuts that have hit working families the hardest-- starting with repealing across-the-board budget cuts known as the “sequester.” It creates a fairer tax code so that low and middle-income families no longer pay more than they should while the world’s biggest corporations benefit from unnecessary loopholes. Our budget reverses harmful pay freezes, expands benefits for federal retirees and strengthens federal health care and retirement programs Americans rely on.

When the federal budget invests resources wisely, we can meet the needs of working families and shrink the deficit. The Better Off Budget not only creates jobs, it reduces the deficit by $4.08 trillion over the next 10 years. It’s the right budget for the country, for working families and for our future.
Although creating jobs is the top priority, there are several other pieces of the budget that should play well among voters. For example, the budget
Eliminates the ability of U.S. corporations to defer taxes on offshore profits.

Enacts a Financial Transaction tax on various financial market transactions.

Implements Chairman Dave Camp’s financial institution excise tax

Allows states to transition to single-payer health care systems.

Closes tax loopholes and ends subsidies provided to oil, gas and coal companies.

Implements comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship.

Calls for transparency in national security budgets to bring accountability to bulk data collection programs.

Funds public financing of campaigns to curb special interest influence in politics.

Endorses “Scrapping-the-Cap” and expanding Social Security benefits separately from the federal budget process.
Blue America congressional candidates have been calling to tell me they support the new budget. George Gollin, who's primary is Tuesday issued a press release endorsing it. Ann Callis, the DCCC candidate, makes no statements regarding policies so there is no way to tell how she feels about the budget-- or anything else. Gollin: “I have consistently supported the alternative budgets that the Progressive Caucus has put forth under co-chairs Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison. The Better Off Budget would reverse harmful Republican cuts, create 8.8 million jobs in the next three years and reduce the budget deficit by over $4 trillion over the next 10 years. It is a blueprint for a prosperous and fair America, and I will co-sponsor the plan in Congress.”

Patrick Hope, who's fighting a tough primary in northern Virginia has a similar perspective on the budget proposal. "The Congressional Progressive Caucus budget is full of good ideas. It invests in public workers, repairs the crumbling American infrastructure and makes our tax code more fair. As someone who has worked in health care, I am especially excited to see a public option mandated in the budget, as well as allowing states to try single payer health care if they choose to do so. This budget shows how much progress we have left to make on a number of issues in Congress. In Virginia, I founded our legislative Progressive Caucus in order to push forward new progressive ideas and give them the public attention they deserve. I look forward to working in Congress as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to do the same with great policy documents like this one."

Stanley Chang, the Blue America candidate running for the Honolulu congressional seat, has also endorsed the new budget proposal. "The Better Off Budget shows that investing in the American people and implementing progressive policies will grow our economy and create jobs. Congress must repeal the sequester, restore unemployment insurance and SNAP benefits, and reverse years of destructive austerity. The Congressional Progressive Caucus proposal includes smart solutions to address our unfair tax system, the climate change crisis, unsustainable defense spending, and many other key issues. I am particularly encouraged by its strong argument for enacting comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship. Sadly, we can count on Congressional Republicans to continue their obstruction of progress and obsession with spending cuts. If they truly cared about creating jobs and shrinking the deficit as they claim, they would take a serious look at the Better Off Budget."

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