As the Republican Party and President Donald Trump gear up to slash over five trillion dollars from crucial safety net programs in order ram through exorbitant tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, a majority of House Democrats on Wednesday voted in favor of the People's Budget (pdf), an ambitious alternative to GOP's "pathetic" proposals that would invest trillions in education, infrastructure, and healthcare while cutting the nation's out-of-control military spending.
"It's one thing to oppose President Trump and expose his broken promises to workers, but it's also important to lay out a positive path forward."
—Rep. Mark Pocan
"Today's vote on the People's Budget marks the closest Congress has come to passing a budget that was truly designed to represent the values and needs of the American people," Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said in a statement following Wednesday's vote. "With over half the Democrats voting for the People's Budget it's clear the party supports smart reductions in Pentagon bloat and wise investments in diplomacy which will make Americans safer. All members of Congress who voted for the People's Budget deserve the thanks of their constituents."
First introduced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in May, the current version of the People's Budget was conceived as an attempt by progressive Democrats to move beyond their defensive posture and offer a positive vision of the future—one they hope can translate into electoral victories in 2018 and beyond.
Among the People's Budget's aims are:
- A $2 trillion investment in America's energy, water, and transportation systems.
- Higher taxes on Wall Street firms and corporations that offshore jobs.
- A minimum wage hike and stronger union rights.
- Expansion of mental health treatment and lower prescription drug costs.
- Public funding of campaigns to curb corporate influence in elections.
- Rein in "excessive CEO pay for defense contractors."
- Audit the Pentagon budget.
- Make debt free college "a reality for all students."
"It's one thing to oppose President Trump and expose his broken promises to workers, but it's also important to lay out a positive path forward," said CPC co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) after the People's Budget was introduced earlier this year. "The CPC's budget is a plan to actually help working Americans who have felt left behind by an economy rigged against them."
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) October 4, 2017
Though the CPC has been putting forth such a budgetary vision for years—proposals routinely ignored by the mainstream media and therefore largely left out of the public debate—this year's budget has garnered more backing from Democratic members than any previous version.
As Common Dreams reported on Wednesday, congressional Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have in recent days ramped up their attacks on the GOP's attempts to mislead the public with a tax plan that non-partisan analyses have shown would disproportionately favor the top one percent.
Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) contrasted the GOP's vision with the agenda outlined by the Progressive Caucus.
"The Republican budget says we should invest millions of dollars into tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires, and the largest corporations," Jayapal said. "The Progressive Caucus budget says we want to invest in people. We believe in working families across this country who want to have a decent life and want to build a better future. I choose investing in the people."
Watch Jayapal's speech:
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) October 4, 2017