Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The People's Budget: Yes Virginia, there are Decent Democrats

The Republican budget will wreak havoc on hard-working Americans. They have proven, once again, their unwavering commitment to taking trillions of dollars from the pockets of the middle class and giving ever more generous windfalls to millionaires and large corporations. They want to throw seniors off Medicare. Their slash-and-burn tactics will throw hundreds of thousands of people out of work. They will eliminate health care for children and those with disabilities. They will fire teachers, firefighters and police — some of the truest heroes of our society.

We must be clear — we will not and cannot stand for this recklessness. We must fight for the American people.

(Memo to Ranking House Budget Committee member Chris Van Hollen, April 6, 2011.)

Raül M. Grijalva
Co-Chair Progressive Caucus

Keith Ellison
Co-Chair Progressive Caucus

Waifs and Strays
by Gustave Doré

It's a great day (but a damn sad commentary, considering how long it took) when two Democratic congressmen, Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, finally make waves by belatedly getting around to doing what Democrats were supposed to be doing all along.  They're publicly talking truth about the House and Senate Republicans who keep using the old Debt Ceiling ploy to justify their unrelenting take-aways from vital domestic programs.  (No,they didn't mention the shameless "Democrats" who've been going along, pretending its all good.)

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a group made up of more than 80 Democratic House members and one Senator, Bernie Sanders (who started the CPC some 20 years ago when he was a House member), put together a proposal called The People's Budget, outlining it in the recent memo to Van Hollen:

The CPC budget:
• Eliminates the deficits and creates a surplus
• Puts America back to work with a “Make it in America” jobs program
• Protects the social safety net
• Ends the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
• Is FAIR (Fixing America’s Inequality Responsibly)

To summarize what our budget accomplishes:
• Primary budget balance by 2014.
• Budget surplus by 2021.
• Reduce public debt as a share of GDP to 64.4% by 2021, down 16.9 percentage  points from a baseline fully adjusted for both the doc fix and the AMT patch.
• Reduce deficits by $5.7 trillion over 2012-21
• Both outlays and revenue equal 22.3% of GDP by 2021.

Breakdown of Policies
Individual income tax policies
1. Extend marriage relief, credits, and incentives for children, families, and education, but
let the upper-income tax cuts expire and let tax brackets revert to Clinton-era rates
2. Index the AMT for inflation for a decade (AMT patch paid for)
3. Rescind the upper-income tax cuts in the tax deal
4. Schakowsky millionaire tax rates proposal (adding 45%, 46%, and 47% top rates)
5. Progressive estate tax (Sanders estate tax, repeal of Kyl-Lincoln)
6. Tax capital gains and qualified dividends as ordinary income

Corporate tax reform
1. Tax U.S. corporate foreign income as it is earned
2. Eliminate corporate welfare for oil, gas, and coal companies
3. Enact a financial crisis responsibility fee
4. Financial speculation tax (derivatives, foreign exchange)

Health care
1. Enact a public option
2. Negotiate Rx payments with pharmaceutical companies
3. CMS program integrity and other Medicare and Medicaid savings in the president’s
4. Prevent a cut in Medicare physician payments for a decade (maintain doc fix)
Social Security
1. Raise the taxable maximum on the employee side to 90% of earnings and eliminate the
taxable maximum on the employer side
2. Increase benefits based on higher contributions on the employee side

Defense savings
1. End overseas contingency operations emergency supplementals starting in 2013,
providing $170 billion in FY2012 funding for withdrawal
2. Reduce baseline Defense spending by reducing strategic capabilities, conventional
forces, procurement, and R&D programs

Job Creation
1. Invest $1.45 trillion in job creation, early childhood, K-12 and special education, quality
child care, energy and broadband infrastructure, housing, and R&D
2. Infrastructure bank
3. Surface transportation reauthorization bill
4. Finance surface transportation reauthorization

On April 5 Grijalva and Ellison wrote an article in Politico once again spelling out clearly what the Republicans are trying to do with their new "budget", as defined by Tea Party lead man Paul Ryan.  It barely got a notice. 

Yesterday they tried again on Alternet, posting an article titled, Here's a Real Democratic Budget that Serves the Interests of the American People.  Barely a ripple.  (Okay, granted-- a title not designed to force you to drop everything and get to reading.  But still. . .)

 This is big.  The People's Budget is almost everything we've ever wanted and fought so hard for with little success.  Now at last there are folks in power who are willing to help us.  We need to get behind this and shove it to its rightful place at the head of the line.  It's getting some play in the liberal/progressive blogosphere but I don't see much in the MSM. (A shocking surprise.)

Contrast this budget to Paul Ryan's proposal,  (nicely broken down on Karoli's Blog), which starts things off with 1) repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and 2) continuing the corporate tax deduction, and then goes downhill from there. ( Kids will go hungry but the important thing is that the Death Tax is scheduled for a hasty demise.)

There are good Democrats out there and these people are proving it.  They understand what we're up against and they're trying against all odds to get the message out.  I think it's going to have to be up to the blogosphere to build the bridge in front of them.  Looks like nobody else is going to do it. 

Liberals and Progressives, Democrats and Independents, can we unite on this?.

(I'll get my tools. . .)



  1. Here's a start. Fasting against the Republican budget: http://bit.ly/eyQkvh

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