Find True Centrism in the People's Budget

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The Nation

Find True Centrism in the People's Budget

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) People’s Budget—the strongest rebuke to the Robin Hood in reverse “Ryan Budget” that was passed by the best Republican House Citizens United can buy—is receiving some well deserved national attention as the budget debate now moves to the Senate.

The Nation immediately recognized the sense and sanity of the progressive plan to create a budget surplus in ten years--through tax fairness, bringing troops home, and investing in job creation, and others are now praising its strengths too. 

“The Courageous Progressive Caucus Budget,” writes The Economist.  “Mr. Ryan has been fulsomely praised for his courage. The Progressive Caucus has not. I’m not really sure what ‘courage’ is supposed to mean here, but this seems precisely backwards.”

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman describes the People’s Budget as “the only major budget proposal out there offering a plausible path to balancing the budget… unlike the Ryan plan, which was just right-wing orthodoxy with an added dose of magical thinking—[it] is genuinely courageous because it calls for shared sacrifice.”

While a Democratic Senate won’t pass this budget, with some savvy and organized pressure from the grassroots and outside groups it could push its principles during the upcoming debate on the budget and debt ceiling, and an expected deficit reduction package from the “Gang of Six”. 

For example, closing tax loopholes that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas, eliminating oil and gas subsidies, ending our wars abroad, taxing the mega-rich—these are true centrist policies, reflecting mainstream views. While embracing these good ideas might do damage to some Senators’ corporate campaign contributions, it could pay off at the polls (and strengthen our democracy, which ideally would be more than a peripheral consideration for our legislators). 

“The public wants job creation, tax fairness, strong retirement protections and deficit reduction—none of that is in dispute,” Representative Raúl Grijalva, co-chair of the CPC, told me. “The People’s Budget has been embraced by the public and the economic community. All the Senate has to do now is lead by following. Anyone who takes a serious look around the country sees the need for a fair budget that lifts us all up together. The People’s Budget fits the bill and needs to be considered.”

An April 17 Washington Post/ABC poll found 72 percent support raising taxes on Americans with incomes over $250,000 dollars per year as the best way to eliminate the national debt. The People’s Budget does just that—rescinding the upper-income tax cuts in December’s tax deal, and creating higher income tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires as proposed in Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s Fairness in Taxation Act.

A March 31 Gallup Poll indicates the top two preferences for improving the economy are to “stop sending jobs overseas” and “create more infrastructure work.” The People’s Budget accomplishes both goals, including an investment of $1.45 trillion in job creation, education, clean energy, broadband infrastructure, housing, and R&D, and finally creating a long-proposed national infrastructure investment bank to support loans and grants on projects that are vital to US economic competitiveness. It would also tax the earnings of US-controlled foreign subsidiary corporations as earned income, rather than promoting offshoring by deferring those taxes until earnings are repatriated to the US.

The budget debate will play out in the Senate and the media for the next several weeks, and it can indeed be moved in the direction of a People’s Budget—if Senators hear from constituents and begin to speak out in support of these principles. They need to know that these are the issues you will be voting on—a budget that makes the wealthy pay their fair share, that ends the wars and brings the troops home, that invests in infrastructure and job creation. They need to know that there is a blueprint out there that accomplishes this and it deserves their attention and support—the Congressional Progressive Caucus People’s Budget. 

This effort will continue into the summer, when the CPC participates in a 12-city nationwide “People’s Tour." No matter your issue—peace, the environment, education, poverty and economic inequality—all issues will be impacted by these vital budget choices we make. Get involved in the People’s fight now.

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation.

 

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