Offering a sustainable alternative to regressive federal budget proposals put forth this week by the Republican majorities on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Wednesday released The People's Budget: A Raise for America , which aims to "level the playing field" for low- and middle-income Americans.
Surrounded by constituents the proposal is designed to help, leaders of the CPC unveiled the budget blueprint at a Washington, D.C. press conference at noon EST:
"The People's Budget fixes an economy that, for too long, has failed to provide the opportunities American families need to get ahead," the document reads. "Despite their skills and work ethic, most American workers workers and families are so financially strapped from increasing income inequality that their paychecks barely cover basic necessities. They earn less and less as corporations and the wealthy continue amassing record profits. It has become clear to American workers that the system is rigged."
The CPC budget (pdf), in turn, attempts to un-rig that system by:
- creating new jobs
- increasing the minimum wage
- reversing harmful cuts to safety net programs (and then bolstering those same supports)
- implementing new tax brackets for those who earn more than $1 million annually
- providing debt-free college to every student
- enacting a price on carbon pollution and investing in renewable energy
- allowing states to transition to single-payer health care systems
- funding public financing of campaigns to curb special interest influence in politics.
Among other things, the proposal would allocate $820 billion for infrastructure and transportation improvements and enact short-term economic stimulus measures that would create 4.7 million jobs in 2015.
"And the CPC insists that the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes," writes Robert Borosage, of the Campaign for America's Future, in an op-ed published Wednesday. "It would create new tax brackets for those making a million or more. The People's Budget raises the estate tax for the super-wealthy. It taxes the income of investors at the same rates as the income of workers. It terminates deferral, which allows multinationals to avoid taxes on money they report as earned abroad."
Overall, the provisions included in the CPC budget contrast sharply with the austerity policies embraced by the right-wing.
" The People's Budget reverses the past few years of extraordinarily sharp cuts to federal spending, which have held us back from a full recovery," said Thomas Hungerford, an economist who analyzed the proposal for the Economic Policy Institute . "It is a forward-looking, evidence-based document that would set us on track to a full, durable recovery from the Great Recession."
In comparison with GOP budget plans, the CPC's ambitious proposal is "about as close to common sense as Congress gets," declared Katrina vanden Heuvel at the Washington Post .
"With few exceptions, Republicans are committed to slashing the basic functions of government and programs that support education, food stamps, energy and R&D to avoid asking corporations or the wealthy to contribute even one more dime in taxes," she wrote.
However, she continued: "What the CPC budget shows is what Washington too often suppresses: There is an alternative. We can afford to build a society that reflects the values and priorities of most Americans. We only have to choose to do so."