Only one budget proposal for fiscal year 2016 wisely deals with the real needs of Americans both in the present and the future. That's the Congressional Progressive Caucus's budget: The People's Budget: A Raise for America
. Unlike the slash-and-burn Republican budgets proposed in the House and Senate that would, in the words of Bill Scher,
turn the federal government into a "shell of its former self," the People's Budget takes a New New Deal approach.
It's not a formula for wild spending. In fact, it's quite frugal. And it invests in projects designed to improve the well-being of all Americans instead of engaging as the Republican budgets do in giving the one percenters yet another boost.
That's why we are urging readers to sign the petition and become a citizen co-sponsor of the People’s Budget.
Like the CPC's previous efforts—The People's Budget (FY 2012), the #Budget for All (FY 2013), the Back to Work Budget (FY 2014) and the Better Off Budget (FY 2015), the People’s Budget for FY 2016 represents a stark contrast to the Republicans' safety-net shredding proposals and is quite different from President Obama's budget as well. Isaiah J. Poole at the Campaign for America's Future writes:
“I just have to tell you as a member of the budget and appropriations committee … that the [House GOP] budget is rigged; it slashes every initiative that was developed and formed under the War on Poverty 50 years ago,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). By contrast, “we make historic investments in housing, in food assistance, in workforce training so that the American Dream is open to everyone,” she said, while refocusing military security spending by reining in waste and the undue influence of defense contractors.
You can read a quick comparison of the People's Budget and the budget proposals of President Obama, the House and Senate in this infographic
from the National Priorities Project.
The House Republican budget would whack $5 trillion out of federal spending over the next 10 years. Most of this comes from programs meant to help low- and moderate-income Americans. While doing this, it would add another $400 billion to the already bloated Pentagon budget and reduce taxes for the wealthy and corporations. The Senate budget plan is slightly different but with the same direction. Austerity for the 99 percent, feasting for the 1 percent.
The People's Budget takes a different path altogether. It focuses on accelerating sustainable economic growth, putting federal money into programs designed to create 8.4 million new jobs by 2018, fixing our crumbling infrastructure, aiding state and local governments, targeting tax credits and building public works programs. These programs would generate huge returns, raise living standards and go far to heal the economic wounds created by the Great Recession and its aftermath.
Head below the fold for some detailed analysis on the People's Budget.
The CPC put together its budget with the assistance of the Economic Policy Institute and the Citizens for Tax Justice. Thomas L. Hungerford has written this year's EPI analysis of that budget. Here is part of what he wrote about some key elements on the budget's tax proposals:
The People’s Budget would increase progressivity of the individual income tax code by adding the five higher marginal tax rates at higher income thresholds from Rep. Schakowsky’s Fairness in Taxation Act of 2011, effective January 1, 2016: a 45 percent bracket starting at taxable income above $1 million, a 46 percent bracket at taxable income above $10 million, a 47 percent bracket at taxable income above $20 million, a 48 percent bracket at taxable income above $100 million, and a 49 percent bracket at taxable income above $1 billion.16 Across this modified rate structure, the budget would also tax all capital gains and dividends as ordinary income. The collective impact of these policies—raising taxes on households with AGI above $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers), extending refundable credits, adding five additional high-income brackets, and equalizing treatment of investment and labor income—would generate $1.4 trillion over FY2016–2025 relative to current law. [...]
On the corporate side, the People’s Budget eliminates some of the most egregious loopholes and enacts other progressive reforms. The budget repeals voluntary deferral of taxes owed on U.S.-controlled foreign companies’ source income, ends the Subpart F active financing exception, and reforms treatment of the foreign tax credit, for savings of $628 billion over FY2016–2025 (CTJ 2013). It curbs corporate deductions for stock options (saving $26 billion), limits the deductibility of bonus pay ($51 billion), eliminates corporate jet provisions ($3 billion), and reduces the level of deductibility of corporate meals and entertainment ($70 billion) over FY2016–2025. It saves $110 billion over FY2016–2025 by eliminating fossil fuel preferences through enactment of the End Polluter Welfare Act (EPWA) sponsored by Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). The budget also ends tax deductions for the direct advertising of certain unhealthy foods to children ($15 billion over FY2016–2025).
The People's Budget may seem too timid to some progressives. Indeed, it shortchanges investment on infrastructure, for instance. But this budget at least takes a few steps in the direction we ought to be going—higher taxes on the most affluent, treating capital gains like wages for tax purposes, boosting spending for the safety net, directly creating jobs, reducing wasteful defense spending. All that and other good ideas mean the People's Budget should be the Democrats' budget.
After five years in which the CPC hasn't even managed to get all of its own members to vote for it, the People's Budget may seem like a pipe-dream. But defeats aren't inevitable. Transforming it from an outlier into the Democrats' actual budget proposal would be spurred by getting its sponsors, the media and rank-and-file progressives talking about it—and honing it—all year long rather than just the few weeks before the annual vote is taken.
One way to help make that happen is to show there is popular support for it. Sign the petition: Be a citizen co-sponsor of the People’s Budget.