Friday, March 28, 2014

The Better Off Budget

You know how every time Paul Ryan farts out another austerity budget, all the Very Serious People in Washington and the media fall all over themselves to tell us how it's the best thing since sliced cake? Even though the conservative budgeting model Ryan follows has led to skyrocketing inequality, higher unemployment, a shredding of the social safety net, and an expansion of the national debt?

And when the Congressional Progressive Caucus puts out their budget each year (budgets that focus on job creation, environmental stewardship, reducing income inequality, shoring up the social safety net, and shrinking the deficit), what do we hear? . . . . . . crickets.

On March 12th the Congressional Progressive Caucus released its budget plan for FY 2015, The Better Off Budget. The Executive Summary gives a quick overview of the budget's components at the top, followed by a more in-depth look at the numbers.   

Unfortunately, as has been the case the previous three years the Caucus has released a budget plan, there is almost no discussion of this budget amid the halls of power in D.C. This, despite the fact that the budget provisions are exceedingly popular with the majority of American citizens.

Danny Vinik at The New Republic ponders this question, and interviews Rep. Keith Ellison, Co-Chair of the CPC:
Danny Vinik: What reception has the Better Off Budget received? Have you heard anything from Republicans or other Democrats?
Keith Ellison: The biggest response I’ve heard is from ordinary Americans and they’ve been very happy that we’re making public investments in things that Americans know are important. People have said thank you for lifting the sequester, thank you for standing against the austerity budget—the kind of thing Paul Ryan is known to propose. The Better Off Budget is a budget that includes some conservative ideas like [House Ways and Means Chairman] Dave Camp’s Wall Street excise tax. A full bipartisan bill to reveal the topline budget numbers for intelligence activities is something we’ve had support on too. We’ve gotten good reaction from people who are privacy-minded for that. Americans know what we need. I’ve been in the district this week and they’re talking to me about job training, public investment in rail lines and roads, renewing unemployment insurance, fully funding SNAP nutrition assistance.

How about we all call our Congressional Representatives and Senators and ask if they've taken a look at the Better Off Budget and what they think of it? The more our elected officials hear that a lot of us out here support progressive ideas, the more likely they are to be pushed to vote for them.

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