A Trillion Dollar Recovery
Poverty is on the rise, record numbers of people are relying on food stamps and we've seen no relief for the foreclosure crisis. There are increasing rates of child abuse and domestic violence linked to this recession. State governments don't have financial resources to cope at the exact moment when those resources are most needed. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have lowered Medicaid payments or eliminated people from eligibility. The senior economist of the International Monetary Fund recently warned of another Great Depression
We don't need a stimulus, we need a recovery. And that means investing $1 trillion over the next two years.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has proposed a plan to do just that--a detailed $1 trillion recovery plan to kick start the economy, invest in sustainable, long term growth and target individuals and communities that are most desperate for resources.
Obama political adviser David Axelrod said this weekend that the new Administration is looking at a stimulus bill in the range of $675 to $775 billion over two years. But is that enough at this moment of metastasizing economic pain and deepening recession? Not according to CPC Co-Chair, Representative Lynn Woolsey of California, who said, "...anything much less than $1 trillion would be like trying to put out a forest fire with a squirt gun."
In addition to much needed investments which have already been laid out--like the extension of unemployment insurance while joblessness soars, increasing food stamps, and assisting cash-strapped states with Medicaid--the CPC plan goes a step further. It takes a holistic approach to economic recovery and the needs of ordinary Americans by addressing infrastructure, human capital, keeping people in their homes, job creation, fiscal relief for state, local and tribal governments, education and job training and tax relief for lower-income families.
There are smart commitments in the CPC plan that deserve real attention, such as:
• A percentage of the infrastructure work would be performed by veterans, low-income and homeless individuals, out-of-school youth, and others facing multiple barriers to employment.
• Green technologies to weatherize the nation's homes and small businesses.
• Grants to neediest schools for modernization, renovation, energy efficiency, and investing in educational technology.
• Construction of libraries in rural communities in order to expand broadband access
• Capital improvements and short-term operating funds for federally-qualified health centers.
• Boost funding for National Health Service Corps to produce more doctors, dentists and nurses to provide health care in underserved area.
• Expand sustainable food systems at local community level.
• A moratorium on home foreclosures.
• At least $100 billion allocated to "green jobs creation", including at community level and in Indian Country.
• Creation of a new energy block grant to transition to green energy sources
• Re-establish Youth Conservation Corps to eliminate backlog of work projects in national, state, and local parks.
• Federal Arts and Writers Project to create jobs for American artists, writers, editors, researchers, photographers, and others.
• Triple funding for Community Development Block Grant Program
• Make the child tax credit fully refundable, lifting 2.7 million people--including 1.7 million children--above the poverty line.
• Expand the earned income tax creditfor families with three or more children.
"The Progressive Caucus is determined to bring justice and prosperity to the American economy, and this proposal does both," CPC Co-Chair, Representative Raul Grijalva of Arizona, said in a released statement.
"The American people's urgent needs in health care, employment, education and infrastructure have been neglected for so very long that the basic structure of our economic system has been undermined. Now that the American people have the attention of Wall Street and Washington, we intend to lift their voice and demand the profound change the people voted for."
There is a groundswell of support for massive action along these lines. More than twenty progressive groups and unions are spearheading the Jobs and Economic Recovery Now campaign, building grassroots support for a bold recovery program of $850 billion or more. At events across the nation, supporters urged quick passage of the legislation so that it is waiting on President Obama's desk the day he takes office.
The campaign is also targeting moderate Republicans in the Senate in order to avoid a filibuster. It was just three months ago, after all, that Republicans
successfully filibustered a stimulus that targeted unemployment insurance, food stamps and "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects--and that was only $56 billion.
At this moment, a massive recovery along the lines of what the country needs is far from a done deal. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has done a great service with its plan, showing us what a comprehensive approach to economic recovery looks like--addressing the needs of ordinary Americans who have been left behind by the Wall Street Bailout Bonanza and eight years of greed and deregulation. Contact your elected officials--make sure they read the plan and support a $1 trillion recovery. We can't afford anything less.
© 2008 The Nation