The Republican budget submitted in the House a few weeks back would make fundamental changes for the worst to the lives of all of us if it ever passes. But opposing such a draconian budget is not enough to move us in better directions. As Naomi Klein says, “No is not enough.” But there is a viable alternative budget out there released by the largest caucus in Congress. It embodies the budget priorities of most of us — and it deserves our support this summer.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a federal budget that matched the priorities of most of us in the country? Well, not only does such a budget exist, and not only has it been fully vetted for its economic soundness, but it may well be voted on in late summer.
That budget is called The People’s Budget. It has been put together by the largest caucus in the US House of Representatives — the Congressional Progressive Congress.
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The reason such a budget is needed is as plain as the nose on your face. Congressman Paul Ryan and his friends in the House of Representatives have made it clear that they are coming after us (i.e., most people in the country). They just released a federal budget that, if passed, will seriously undermine the health, education and well-being of most American families. Over 10 years, it would cut $5.5 trillion (not billion, but trillion) from programs most of us need: Medicare, clean water and air, food stamps, Head Start, medical research, renewable energy, heating assistance, job training programs, Meals on Wheels, Medicaid, and lots more. Want to be able to go into assisted living or a nursing home after you’ve exhausted your life savings? Forget it! That Medicaid assistance to our seniors will be evaporating. Meanwhile, the proposed House budget transfers most of those “savings” into tax breaks for the very wealthy and into a Pentagon budget that is already more than nine times the Russian military budget!
The People’s Budget, on the other hand, provides the funding necessary to do the things that the country needs to get done. Instead of getting Saudi Arabia to fix and own our infrastructure, it provides direct funding for good paying jobs to fix our highways, bridges and schools, to create an energy grid based on renewable sources, to build a modern public transportation system, to support small business owners, to extend internet access to all of us and to seriously address climate change. (Yes, the glaciers really are melting, global temperatures really are rising and the climate really is changing despite the deliberate abandonment of reality by some members of Congress.)
The People’s Budget provides the tuition help that college students need. It provides an economically viable path to health coverage for everyone. It strengthens Social Security and Medicare instead of turning them over to bankers and insurance magnates.
And it actually brings down the deficit, primarily by avoiding big Pentagon increases and instituting fair taxes. Does it make sense for billionaires to pay a lower effective tax rate than middle-income Americans? While small companies pay their full share of taxes, should the biggest companies on Earth be able to hold their taxable profits offshore and use the money they save to fund their lobbyists and the campaigns of their favorite politicians? Even our president has noted how scandalous it is for people like him to have so many options to avoid taxes. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower put a 90 percent tax on incomes over $1 million. No millionaires went hungry and the economy started to hum, creating buckets-full of good jobs so that by the 1960s, one breadwinner could support a family. Today, the tax rates for big companies and the top half of the 1 percent are close to the lowest ever and more people than ever in the past 60 years are not in the full-time labor force. And those who have jobs often struggle while their employer-provided health benefits dribble away.
Why not take a look at the People’s Budget? You can read a summary of it or the whole document here. If you think it comes close to matching the way you think about things, let your member of Congress know you want her or him to vote for The People’s Budget.