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(Image: Congressional Progressive Caucus)

Prosperity Not Austerity: New Progressive Budget 'Prioritizes Well-Being of People and Planet'

Republicans' "harmful cuts are a false prophecy for American economic success"

Andrea Germanos

The Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled on Thursday what it calls "a down payment on a brighter future for all Americans"—a progressive budget for 2017 that offers a blueprint for tacking systemic injustices while creating over 3.5 million jobs.

The Caucus, headed by co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), entitled the document The People’s Budget: Prosperity Not Austerity; Invest in America.

It "reverses harmful austerity cuts and fixes a system that for far too long has only benefited those at the top," stated First-Vice Chair Rep. Pocan (D-Wis.). It's also, according to Rep. Grijalva, a "true expression of progressive values."

A summary of the budget states that it:

  • Includes $1 trillion in infrastructure upgrades
  • Provides a plan to reduce poverty by half in ten years
  • Funds public financing of campaigns to curb the influence of special interests in politics
  • Enacts a Financial Transaction Tax on Wall Street’s high-stakes trading
  • Provides greater investments in K-12 education
  • Allows states to transition to single-payer health care systems
  • Introduces a carbon tax
  • Increases funding for diplomacy and strategic humanitarian aid

The progressive budget also responds to the legislative attack on reproductive rights, stating:

The CPC Budget takes critical steps to strengthen women’s social and economic standing, including allowing women to make decisions about their own healthcare. The People’s Budget does not include the restrictive Hyde Amendment and it increases Title X funding so that at - risk women and children have comprehensive access to services. An investment in women and children is an investment in America’s future.

And it addresses the water crisis afflicting Flint, Michigan, allocating $765 million for the city to upgrade its water infrastructure.

The budget's climate proposals received accolades from environmental organization Friends of the Earth.

"This is the only budget in Washington that truly accepts the urgency of the climate crisis," stated Lukas Ross, energy campaigner with the group. "From reining in Big Oil to investing in clean renewable energy, this is the policy vision we need to ensure a just and speedy end to the era of fossil fuels."

But it's not just "numbers and charts," Grijalva said; instead, "our budget is a path forward for the American people who've had their wages flat line and savings erode."

"It alleviates our overcrowded classrooms where kids struggle to learn, and makes higher education a reality for any student committed to earning a college degree. It ensures profit motives and systemic inequalities have no place in our criminal justice system or our immigration policies. The investments we detail will create jobs, protect the environment and promote growth by requiring the wealthiest among us, corporations and Wall Street to contribute their fair share to our society.

"The budget of the Congressional Progressive Caucus prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet."
—Lukas Ross, Friends of the Earth

"While Republicans continue fighting over how much more seniors should sacrifice, The People’s Budget shows that their harmful cuts are a false prophecy for American economic success," he continued.

Ross agreed, adding, "In the face of record inequality and looming climate disruption, debating between different shades of austerity is simply unacceptable. Budgets are about priorities, and the budget of the Congressional Progressive Caucus prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet."

House Republicans, meanwhile, continue to wrangle over their own budget proposal. Roll Call reports:

A fiscal 2017 spending plan that can pass the House would be one that strikes a compromise between leadership and members who believe the budget needs to adhere to spending levels agreed to in last year’s budget deal, $1.07 trillion, and those who want to stick to the sequestration spending level, $1.04 trillion — a difference of $30 billion in discretionary spending.

President Obama, for his part, offered his final budget proposal to Congress last month, which Republicans promptly declined to hear.

His proposal, Jasmine Tucker and Lindsay Koshgarian wrote at National Priorities Project,

calls for increased investment in education, the fight against climate change, and family-friendly tax policies, all of which enjoy broad popular support. However, it also calls for continued windfalls for the Pentagon that will benefit for-profit contractors without adding to our security.

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