WASHINGTON - As this year's congressional session grinds to a close with deal-making and posturing between House Republicans and Senate Democrats, Rep. Keith Ellison and other liberal House Democrats are trying to move the conversation to the left by offering their own year-end jobs and tax extension legislation.
Entitled the "Restore the American Dream for the 99 precent Act," the measure is a wish list of policies long-touted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus that Ellison co-chairs along with Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-AZ.
Some of the policies in the bill include higher taxes on millionaires and banks, a public option to last year's health care law, an end to tax loopholes for oil companies, cuts to defense spending and an end to the war in Afghanistan. The new revenue and savings from those policies would go toward a massive public works program and additional support and retraining for the unemployed.
Ellison pointed to an economic analysis of the CPC's plan by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute that claims the legislation will create 5 million jobs within two years and reduce the long-term budget deficit by $2 trillion.
"You know we have been consistent in arguing that jobs should be the principal way that we reduce the deficit," Ellison said. "We have been consistent in saying that we've got get out of these wars and that these wars present a real problem for the American middle class and the poor."
But even as Ellison and the CPC lay out their economic plan, the discussion in Congress has narrowed to a negotiation between top House Republicans and Senate Democrats about extending last year's payroll tax cut and agreeing to a nearly $1 trillion spending package. Those bills, the product of strenuous and high-wire negotiations, are unlikely to contain any of the CPC's proposals.