In a televised address yesterday, President Obama set a goal of cutting the U.S. budget deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years. He countered Republican budget plans with what he said was a more balanced approach that relies in part on tax increases for the wealthy as well as on spending cuts. The Congressional Progressive Caucus meanwhile has unveiled an alternative plan called the "People's Budget." We speak to Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. [includes rush transcript]
Jan Schakowsky and the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget were more in keeping with what I would have proposed: more taxes on the wealthy and big, multinational corporate interests who can well afford it, more cuts in defense spending, and more investments in the working middle class and the young and poor people trying to work their way into it. I would have strongly preferred, for example, for the president to endorse a financial transactions tax that would both raise $125 billion a year and have the strong added bonus of some curb on the reckless trading and speculation on Wall Street.
An alternative approach that deserves more attention is the "People's Budget" offered by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). It will be introduced in the House on Thursday and it is the strongest rebuke – in the form of an amendment – to the unconscionable "Ryan Budget" for FY 2012. It's a budget that gives the people – according to poll after poll – exactly what they want (something which shouldn't be a rarity in a healthy, vibrant democracy).
Representatives from the 77-member House Progressive Caucus gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday to roll out their plan to cut the deficit and put the budget back into balance. Their simple solution: pull the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, install a public option for health care, raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations and voila, America is fixed.
Just when it seemed that all of Washington had lost its values and its connection with the American people, a bolt of hope has arrived. It is the People's Budget put forward by the co-chairs of the 80-member Congressional Progressive Caucus. Their plan is humane, responsible, and most of all sensible, reflecting the true values of the American people and the real needs of the floundering economy. Unlike Paul Ryan's almost absurdly vicious attack on the poor and working class, the People's Budget would close the deficit by raising taxes on the rich, taming health care costs (including a public option), and ending the military spending on wars and wasteful weapons systems.