Beautiful and budget are two words that typically don’t go together in my thinking. But that’s what The People’s Budget is. It’s a humanitarian vision anchored in a realistic fiscal and economic analysis. That means, it can be done! What’s needed is political will.
If you place the Trump Administration budget and the People’s Budget side by side, the contrast is stark.
Trump Administration Budget
The Trump budget focuses on beefing up national security and public safety and tax reductions largely for the wealthy and corporations. In order to be deficit neutral, social safety net programs, federal protections and infrastructure and economic development programs are sacrificed. Social Security Disability, Medicare, Children’s Health Insurance Program and food stamps are some of the well-known programs on the chopping block. But there’s a multitude of cuts that would negatively impact the poor, elderly, and small and rural communities, including job training and small business development.
This plan is so severe, even some Republican Congress members balked. The National Governors Association, most of whom are Republican, drew up a list of cuts that would fiscally overburden States, already stressed by cost shifting for public safety, education and welfare that has occurred over the last several years. Also, this plan assumes 3% annual growth in GDP. However, that rate is disputed by the Congressional Budget Office which says 1.9% is more realistic.
The People’s Budget
The People’s Budget, developed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is based in putting political and economic power into the hands of the working and middle class, ensuring their prosperity, security and a strong economy, all while reducing the federal deficit over the next ten years. The People’s Budget would invest in infrastructure, like roads, bridges and green energy that create jobs in the U.S. It is built on a tax system that is fair to working families and supports small businesses. Housing and healthcare would be affordable for all, and educational opportunities would be affordable and include apprenticeships that lead to high-paying jobs. While the main focus is domestic, the People’s Budget provides strong support for veterans, and promoting peace and sustainable national defense.
According to the bipartisan think tank Economic Policy Institute Policy Center , “The People’s Budget would have significant positive impacts, including improving the economic well-being of low- and middle-income families, making necessary public investments, strengthening the social safety net, and increasing tax progressivity and adequacy while reducing the deficit in the medium term.” It would ensure long-term fiscal sustainability.
These two budgets clearly reflect different worldviews. The Trump budget reflects a desire to eliminate many of the social programs Americans rely on, leaving us to struggle on our own. It also revives the discredited trickle-down theory. The Trump budget is also based in fear and self-protection, such that we need to build walls and ramp up the military as our highest priority. The Trump budget is titled “A New Foundation for Greatness.” But its tenor feels more like a “Death to America” plan. There’s nothing inspiring about this plan. Even if it’s a negotiating tactic—put out the worst you can, then by comparison anything else will be more palatable and you’ll have won—a cruel tactic that creates insecurity for many, it’s a dark view of the world for all but those at the top.
The People’s Budget, on the other hand, springs from hope and optimism. It puts forward a worldview that we’re all in this together. It returns fairness, the lack of which many people have been angry about for a long time. The People’s Budget revives the American Dream, putting it within reach of those who’ve not yet experienced it, and alleviating stress on the middle class who fear losing it—concerned that a job layoff or health problem could bankrupt them. The People’s Budget goals center on increasing opportunities for all Americans rather than escalating corporate profits. It promises renewable energy, clean air and water, and a physical infrastructure of roads, bridges, and internet capacity that Americans will be paid well to build.
The FY 2018 budget takes effect in October. Between now and then, there’s wrangling. The U.S. is the richest country in the world. But how will we spend our money? The People’s Budget may not be perfect, but hey. It could be the start of a brand new world. A world that puts 99% of Americans first. I know which of these two worlds I want to live in. How about you?
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