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Progressive 'Back to Work' Budget Wins Praise for Anti-Austerity Approach

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- 1898 days ago -
'A reminder that we don't need to cut teachers and school lunches when we can eliminate wasteful giveaways to fossil fuel corporations.'

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Kit B (276)
Friday March 15, 2013, 7:13 am
Image Credit: Common Dreams

In the midst of ongoing hysteria about a 'non-existent deficit crisis' in Washington, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Wednesday unveiled an alternative approach to destructive austerity economics by releasing their 'Back to Work Budget' plan for 2014.

Pushing back specifically on the dominant talking point of inside-the-Beltway elites, the budget challenges the idea that cutting programs, reducing corporate tax rates, and slashing investments is a pathway to economic prosperity. Its proponents argue the US does not have "a deficit crisis"—as those pushing for steep cuts suggest—but rather, "a jobs crisis."

Presented by CPC co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison and backed by members of the caucus' Budget Task force—Reps. Jim McDermott, Jan Schakowsky, Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan—the plan describes how smart investments, not deep cuts to key programs, would create almost 7 million jobs over the first year of its implementation.

“Americans face a choice,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “We can either cut Medicare benefits to pay for more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or we can close outdated tax loopholes and invest in jobs. We choose investment.”

They continue:

The Back to Work Budget invests in America’s future because the best way to reduce our long-term deficit is to put America back to work. In the first year alone, we create nearly 7 million American jobs and increase GDP by 5.7%. We reduce unemployment to near 5% in three years with a jobs plan that includes repairing our nation’s roads and bridges, and putting the teachers, cops and firefighters who have borne the brunt of our economic downturn back to work. We reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion by closing tax loopholes and asking the wealthy to pay a fair share. We repeal the arbitrary sequester and the Budget Control Act that are damaging the economy, and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, which provide high quality, low-cost medical coverage to millions of Americans when they need it most. This is what the country voted for in November. It’s time we side with America’s middle class and invest in their future.

Received as a breath of fresh air of economic sanity, the plan was praised by a variety of individuals and groups.

“If you listen to the budget debate in Washington too long, you almost start to believe that austerity is inevitable, and that the only choice left is how to allocate the suffering," said Ben Schreiber, a policy analyst for Friends of the Earth. "It is refreshing that the House Progressive Caucus has come up with a positive vision for moving the country forward. It serves as a reminder that we don’t need to cut teachers and school lunches when we can eliminate wasteful giveaways to fossil fuel corporations."

Schreiber specifically welcomed inclusion of a carbon tax on fossil fuels and compared it to the woefully inadequate and industry-friendly approach laid out in the GOP budget presented by Rep. Paul Ryan on Monday. “The Back to Work Budget would allow us to make polluters pay for the damage they are causing, while using the revenue to invest in the clean energy technologies of the future—rather than continuing our addiction to dirty energy, as proposed in the Ryan plan yesterday," he said.

"Financial speculation taxes can raise substantial revenue to counteract devastating spending cuts," said Micah Hauptman of Public Citizen. "The automatic, across-the-board “sequestration” cuts began to take effect two weeks ago. And while most people have not experienced the disastrous consequences of these cuts, it is likely that they will shortly, as funding to emergency response and disaster relief programs are slashed, food inspections are reduced and public safety is compromised."

Writing at In These Times, Ian Becker assessed the budget's approach by writing:

With corporate profits already back up to record highs, the budget's strategy of public investing and corporate belt-tightening--for instance, modernizing 35,000 public schools rather than providing a $25 billion stock option loophole for Wall Street--don't seem bold, so much as commonsensical.

Key aspects of the budget proposal include:

Job Creation

• Infrastructure – substantially increases infrastructure investment to the level the American Society of Civil Engineers says is necessary to close our infrastructure needs gap

• Education – funds school modernizations and rehiring laid-off teachers

• Aid to States – closes the recession-caused gap in state budgets for two years, allowing the rehiring of cops, firefighters, and other public employees

• Making Work Pay – boosts consumer demand by reinstating an expanded tax credit for three years

• Emergency Unemployment Compensation – allows beneficiaries to claim up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits in high-unemployment states for two years

• Public Works Job Programs and Aid to Distressed Communities – includes job programs such as a Park Improvement Corps, Student Jobs Corps, and Child Care Corps

Fair Individual Tax

• Immediately allows Bush tax cuts to expire for families earning over $250K

• Higher tax rates for millionaires and billionaires (from 45% to 49%)

• Taxes income from investments the same as income from wages

Fair Corporate Tax

• Ends corporate tax bias toward moving jobs and profits overseas

• Enacts a financial transactions tax

• Reduces deductions for corporate jets, meals, and entertainment


• Returns Pentagon spending to 2006 levels, focusing on modern security needs

Health Care

• No benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security

• Reduces health care costs by adopting a public option, negotiating drug prices, and reducing fraud


• Prices carbon pollution with a rebate to hold low income households harmless

• Eliminates corporate tax subsidies for oil, gas, and coal companies GETTING AMERICANS BACK TO WORK

So far and according to Dave Johnson and Bill Scher at the Campaign for America's Future, the most troubling aspect of the 'Back to Work Budget' is the absolute poverty of the media coverage surrounding it.

Writing ahead of the budget's release, Scher wrote:

For the past 24 hours, the media has dutifully reported on the budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, even though everyone knows it is extremely unlikely to become law.

That’s fine; it’s not the media’s job to short-circuit debate. It’s the media’s job to report factually on the ideas proposed in Congress, so the public can weigh in before Congress votes.

Today, another budget will be proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the “Back to Work” budget. It probably won’t become law either. But it deserves every bit of media attention that Ryan’s budget gets.

But as the day followed and Johnson tracked coverage via web news searches, what did he find? As expected: Nothing. Or almost nothing. As of his writing he'd found 72,000 hits looking for stories on "Paul Ryan Budget," but searching for "Back to Work Budget" only two—one from Huffington Post and one from Raw Story.

It's safe to say a search Thursday will yield better results. But for the moment, austerity remains the mainstream media's darling.

Read the budget's executive summary here (pdf).

Enjoy this infographic: ** See Graphic at VISIT SITE**

Watch Rep. Keith Ellison introduce the budget here: ***Short Video at VISIT SITE**

By: Jon Queally, staff writer | Common Dreams |


Arielle S (313)
Friday March 15, 2013, 7:31 am
So Congress CAN come up with good ideas?? Amazing and ever so much better than the Ryan fiasco.
I'd vote for this in a heartbeat....

Roger Skinner (14)
Friday March 15, 2013, 8:42 am
Unfortunately, this has as much chance of getting passed as the Republican plan, even if it does make much more sense.

Angelika R (143)
Friday March 15, 2013, 9:51 am
For 2014????? TOOO LATE ! It is needed NOW ! This looks like a cover-up for the failure to oppose the WH approach to social programs cuts. I would have to take a close look at all members of this CPC and compare with those brave 28 to really assess this.

Kit B (276)
Friday March 15, 2013, 9:58 am

With a lot of work and many donations we can try to increase our numbers in both the Senate and the House. We also need new leadership in both Houses. If Obama is serious about anything he said, then people need to get up, stand up and speak up. Or, we will get rolled over by a group of crazy Austerity programs that bring on a real depression. I'm very tired of hearing the BUDGET mantra by fools that don't think in the long term only repeat the crap spewed out by the likes of Ryan. His plans, his budget are extremely dangerous and in no way will promote either jobs or a stronger economy. I like to look for reality and not live in the land of cute phrases and simple answers.

Gene J (290)
Friday March 15, 2013, 10:29 am
"Today, another budget will be proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the “Back to Work” budget. It probably won’t become law either. But it deserves every bit of media attention that Ryan’s budget gets."

Keynesian economics, used by FDR, Nixon, Reagan and both Bush President's is the path out of recession/depression. Republicans used to know this. But they prefer ideology over the welfare of the American people. They really ARE willing to crash the economy rather than let it improve under a Democratic President, which to me is the height of hypocrisy. They've always been a dollars before people bunch, but to follow Europe down the austerity rabbit hole into a full scale depression, AGAIN, is also the height of idiocy. That they are able to persuade anyone but the 1%, who do just fine no matter WHAT happens to the rest of us, that this is sound policy is unfathomable. They do it by hooking their economic plans to their "morality" plans which a portion of America does accept, the white privileged portion mostly, the anti-women portion totally and sell it all as a package. That the package has an expiration date of 2001 and reeks of rot doesn't matter to those zealots who believe they are defending America against the heathens. There is nothing worse, and history has proved this true time and time again than mixing politics and religion. This is ALL they do in attempt to confuse both issues and garner support from bigots, racists and the 1%. The only good news is that those populations are all shrinking quickly, not fast enough for me, but soon, very soon, this blather will get no one elected. And they have no plan B. So we'll be rid of them, sooner rather than later I hope.

Bryan S (105)
Friday March 15, 2013, 10:56 am
Thanks Kit -- what a breath of fresh air and sanity!

Of course we never stop hearing about Ryan's so-called budget that cuts benefits and jobs so tax cuts can be given to billionaires and big corporation, but you can bet we'll hear very little of this budget in the media.

Let's make the video of Rep. Keith Ellison talking about this budget go viral! Americans need to demand solutions instead of putting up with the same crap that brings more poverty and misery.

"But as the day followed and Johnson tracked coverage via web news searches, what did he find? As expected: Nothing. Or almost nothing. As of his writing he'd found 72,000 hits looking for stories on "Paul Ryan Budget," but searching for "Back to Work Budget" only two—one from Huffington Post and one from Raw Story. "

pam w (139)
Friday March 15, 2013, 11:05 am

Kit B (276)
Friday March 15, 2013, 11:15 am

Imagine it and make it happen. It is really all up to us. We can talk or we can get to work. I guess I will stop being an activist when I draw my last breath. Till then, fight on warriors of justice.

Bryan S (105)
Friday March 15, 2013, 11:32 am
Very well said, Gene. I agree that it is unfathomable that plans like Ryan's get so much traction, especially when we have Europe as a glaring example of enforcing austerity in a recession! Yes, religion an politic are a very bad mix.

And agreed, Kit, the nonsense coming from Ryan and his supporters is a very real danger.

JL A (281)
Friday March 15, 2013, 11:54 am
A petition for the Back to Work Budget is available at:

Past Member (0)
Friday March 15, 2013, 1:09 pm
No more sequester. Please sign,

Past Member (0)
Friday March 15, 2013, 1:12 pm
Let us have a petition to recall all the Congress, turn the lights off , don't pay anyone, and save the money there, after all they have done nothing but show what idiots and hardasses they are. Not the best reputations. Thanks Kit --always great articles

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday March 15, 2013, 3:08 pm
Thanks so much for posting this, Kit. I'm sorry to be out of green stars to send you today.
Hopefully it will be widely read on Huffington Post and Raw Story. I also saw it on Alternet. I get mailings from United For Peace & Justice, and signed their petition and also sent a letter to my House Rep. to co-sponsor this bill. We can turn these snowflakes into snowballs and start throwing them at the media to get their attention.

Robert Tomlinson (62)
Friday March 15, 2013, 3:12 pm
I am in favor of the Progressive Caucus proposals.
I have always maintained that if we had followed Paul Krugman's philosophy of going for a bigger deal in 2009. BUT that was not possible. BUT if we had.....our country would be in full employment mode with people paying taxes and paying down the debt.

Barbara K (60)
Friday March 15, 2013, 3:54 pm
Thank you,Kit, this budget makes sense. I hope those with sense in DC see and vote for it. The other Bill of Destruction is a disaster for everyone, but then that is what the Rs want. We are in for the fight of our lives, and I hope we can have this budget passed even if we have to send petitions every day.

Kit B (276)
Friday March 15, 2013, 4:34 pm

I do hope you all have gone to VISIT SITE to read the graph and see the Representative Keith Ellison Video about the need for a workable, humane and honest budget. We must put people back to work, there are not enough cuts to avoid just getting this simple task completed. JOBS - Employment is the solution.

Yvonne White (229)
Friday March 15, 2013, 5:43 pm
But the Progressive Caucus budget is so Progressive..none of the RepubliCONs or Corporate Democrats can stomach COMMON sense - it's so "common"!;) We've needed jobs for Years! But if they funded jobs, then they Couldn't Threaten Social Security!!!

Mitchell D (87)
Friday March 15, 2013, 6:34 pm
This sounds good to me., and I sent it to a bunch of my friends.

Kit B (276)
Friday March 15, 2013, 6:47 pm

Yep, that darn logic keeps getting in the way.

Thanks, Mitchell.

Val D (34)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 1:51 am
No way should the Budget punish those who already struggle and live hard lives - the poor, the elderly, and children. Always remember what Hubert Humphrey said, "It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."

Kerrie G (116)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 5:46 am
Noted, thanks.

Terrie Williams (798)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 9:37 am
Everything signed, noted and shared.

l L (1)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 11:33 am
thx noted.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Saturday March 16, 2013, 1:10 pm
This is what they should have been doing in the first place.

Robert K (31)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 7:55 pm
Don't forget the Pelosi house passed 44 jobs creation bills and all 44 were filibustered to death by Republican senators who represented 16% of the American people. And Harry Reid was too dumb to stop that.
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