Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

GOP leadership descend the steps at the Capitol Building on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (Photo: Forbes.com)

Dueling Visions: The CPC People’s Budget vs. the Budget for the 1%

The Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled its fiscal 2016 “People’s Budget: A Raise For America” one day after House Republicans released their “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America” proposal. The CPC touted a $1.9 trillion investment in America’s future and over 8 million new jobs. The House Republicans bragged about cutting $5 trillion over 10 years. The sharp contrast between the two reflect stark differences in values and ideology – and a basic choice of whether government will serve the many or the few.

The Republican budget is rightly scorned as a fantasy, a dishonest, Orwellian document, packed with magic asterisks and budget sleight of hand. But what is interesting is what Republicans claim that they value.

Republicans believe the rich and corporations have too little money and pay too much in taxes. They believe that Wall Street needs more freedom and less regulation. They believe that too many Americans have health insurance, that the poor have too much support, that schools need less money, that college should be less affordable to children from low-wage families. They believe that the Pentagon should get more money, and fight more wars. They believe that coal and oil need subsidy, not regulation.

They argue that the economy will grow faster if government spending is cut, regulations rolled back, and budgets balanced. Balancing the budget over 10 years is important enough that they sacrifice all credibility by packing the budget with omissions and distortions in order to reach the goal nominally. But balancing the budget is not important enough to ask the rich and corporations to pay an additional dime in taxes.

The CPC budget is fiscally cautious: It would bring America’s annual deficits down and begin to reduce the national debt as a percentage of GDP. But it is grounded in the reality that America faces major challenges that can no longer be ignored.

The CPC believes that our infrastructure is dangerously outmoded, so it makes a down payment on rebuilding America. It believes climate change is real, so invests in new energy and in aiding communities already staggered by extreme weather events. It believes education is vital, so it invests in universal pre-k, aid to schools and debt-free four-year college.

The CPC believes workers need a raise. So it lifts the minimum wage, calls for strengthening the workers right to organize, and lifts the floor with paid sick days, family leave, a crackdown on wage theft, revised overtime and more. It would continue health care reform, preserve Medicare and expand Social Security.

To pay for this, the CPC exacts savings from areas of massive waste. It would trim the Pentagon budget, and require an audit for the first time. It would end subsidies to Big Oil and limit them to agribusiness. It would empower Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts on prescription drugs, and create a public option in Obamacare to keep insurance companies honest.

And the CPC insists that the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. 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.

And the CPC argues we should tax “bads” to reduce them. It would impose a tax on polluters for carbon emissions, rebating a quarter of the revenue to protect low-wage families. It would hike taxes on cigarettes. It would impose a tax on speculation – a financial transactions tax – to curb destabilizing, computer-driven trading. It would end tax breaks for perverse CEO compensation policies.

The CPC argues the economy suffers from an absence of demand, partly driven by extreme inequality and the hollowing out of the middle class. Government investment in vital areas provides good jobs, moves the economy towards full employment and boosts demand. Government action to lift the floor under workers will help generate demand. Government crackdown on Wall Street speculation, CEOs looting companies and multinationals shipping jobs abroad will help drive investment into the real economy, not the financial casino.

The question really is who is the master? Who does government serve? Revealingly, the CPC People’s Budget provides for public financing of elections, seeking to limit the corruptions of big money. Republicans, not surprisingly, oppose any restriction on money politics.

The Republican budget – gimmicks, perverse priorities and all – will pass the House. The CPC People’s Budget will struggle to win 100 votes on the floor. But the former only reinforces what ails us. The latter offers an alternative that makes sense, that adds up. There is a way up. The rules don’t have to be rigged to favor the few. But it will take a sea change in Washington for common sense to gain majority support.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage is the founder and president of the Institute for America’s Future and co-director of its sister organization, the Campaign for America’s Future.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Truss' Tories Plan to Slash Public Spending While Clinging to Chaos-Causing Tax Cuts

"When the IMF tells you, 'hang on guys, this is going to be so bad for inequality it needs a rethink,' you've got a serious problem," one U.K. activist said of the new mini-budget.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders, Kaine Hail US Senate's Passage of Brazil Election Resolution

"It is important for the people of Brazil to know we're on their side, on the side of democracy," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "With passage of this resolution, we are sending that message."

Brett Wilkins ·


Highland Park Victims Sue Gun-Maker, Stores Over Negligence and Deceptive Practices

Lawyers argued that the "shooter was the type of a young consumer susceptible to Smith & Wesson's deceptive and unfair marketing, and was enabled by his father."

Julia Conley ·


NC Dems Plead for Cash as Beasley Deadlocked With GOP Opponent in Decisive US Senate Race

Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley has a one-point lead, but Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Ted Budd is getting more support from the Republican Party.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Yeah, Right': Pentagon Report Claiming US Military Killed Just 12 Civilians Last Year Met With Skepticism

"Once again the confirmed civilian casualty count is below what communities on the ground are reporting," lamented Emily Tripp, director of the monitor group Airwars.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo