Congressional Progressive Caucus: Avoid the Fiscal Cliff with the Deal for All                        

September 12, 2012

Washington, DC—The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) today examined how the Deal for All (H.RES. 733) resolution can help the nation avoid the coming budgetary “fiscal cliff.”  

While the Republican leadership has signaled it won’t even attempt to resolve the nation’s budget issues, Caucus members including Co-Chairs Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), heard experts from across the political spectrum detail the best ways to avoid a fiscal cliff and rejuvenate the economy without harming essential protections for the middle class.  

The panelists echoed the importance of the principles in the Deal for All in any budget negotiation. These principles confirm that any deal must preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, make common-sense cuts to outdated defense programs, invest in jobs, and require revenue sources that include having the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans pay their fair share of taxes.  

“Paul Ryan’s Republican House majority has been sitting on its hands for two years wasting time on conspiracy theories and ideological warfare, and the American people are out of time,” Rep. Grijalva said. “The entire economic profession knows the federal government has to get to work creating jobs, closing our gaping corporate tax loopholes, and making sure the richest 2 percent pay their fair share. Fixing our economy isn’t difficult or confusing unless Republicans want to make it difficult and confusing. We know what we have to do. Now let’s do it.”

“The impending fiscal cliff is an enormous opportunity to address our jobs crisis and put our country on a path to fiscal health,” Rep. Ellison said. “During the Democratic National Convention we heard how the American economy is stronger when its policies protect and expand the middle class. The CPC is laying the groundwork to make sure that any agreement reflects these core American values. As our panelists confirmed, the best way to grow our economy is from the middle out. We cannot expect to put Americans back to work unless we protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and ask the wealthiest to contribute their fair share.”

Panelist Lawrence J. Korb, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan, noted the defense budget can be reduced without jeopardizing national security. “For FY 2013, defense spending will consume about 20 percent of the total federal budget and more than half of the discretionary budget,” Korb noted. “In addition, the defense budget will be larger than major mandatory spending programs like Medicare and Medicaid.” 

Maya Rockeymoore, chair of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, added that decisions to change these programs “must be based on what is best for their beneficiaries, and not what is expedient for reducing America’s debt. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are vital to the economic and health security of millions of senior Americans.”

“Arguments that we need large cuts in spending to reduce the deficit are based on a false view of what is driving deficits, in particular the myth that government spending is exploding,” Chad Stone, Chief Economist of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said. “Trying to balance the budget through spending cuts alone, or worse, trying to balance the budget through spending cuts after cutting taxes even more than they would be by simply extending the Bush tax cuts is a recipe for draconian spending cuts that will hit low- and middle-income households very hard and threaten the core functions of government.”

“I think all of us here agree that the most important job for Congress right now is to help the economy to create jobs,” Steve Wamhoff of Citizens for Tax Justice added. “Tax cuts are one of the least effective tools to accomplish this goal.”