Progressive Democrats Propose a Defiant Anti-Austerity Budget

Ian Becker

At noon today, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), led by co-chairs Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), introduced the newly minted Back to Work Budget. The caucus's annual budget serves as an alternative to various White House and congressional budgets. The CPC says the budget would create millions of new jobs through investments in critical areas such as infrastructure and education: In the first year alone, we create nearly 7 million American jobs and increase GDP by 5.7%.  We reduce unemployment to near 5% in three years with a jobs plan that includes repairing our nation’s roads and bridges, and putting the teachers, cops and firefighters who have borne the brunt of our economic downturn back to work.  We reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion by closing tax loopholes and asking the wealthy to pay a fair share.  We repeal the arbitrary sequester and the Budget Control Act that are damaging the economy, and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, which provide high quality, low-cost medical coverage to millions of Americans when they need it most.  This is what the country voted for in November.  It’s time we side with America’s middle class and invest in their future. The budget also reintroduces many legislative and fiscal reforms that conservatives have fought long and hard to kill, as Raw Story notes:   The plan also proposes to end “corporate welfare” by closing loopholes that reward companies for sending production and profits overseas, as well as ending the billions of dollars in tax credits for oil companies and other major corporations that have shown record profits in recent years.    The plan intends to reduce defense spending to 2006 levels and enact a tax on financial transactions. Currently stock trading and other transactions between financial institutions are untaxed. Attaching a fee to securities transactions, currency transactions and other inter-bank exchanges would not only raise revenue, but hopefully reduce the kind of rampant, unchecked speculation that contributed to the 2008 financial crash.   In addition, the progressive budget hopes to lower health costs by instituting a public option for health insurance, negotiating drug prices and reducing fraud. Among them is a motion to raise revenue by allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, as was proposed in President Obama's initial revenue plan last year.    With corporate profits already back up to record highs, the budget's strategy of public investing and corporate belt-tightening--for instance, modernizing 35,000 public schools rather than providing a $25 billion stock option loophole for Wall Street--don't seem bold, so much as commonsensical.

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