by Randolph T. Holhut
Chief of AR Correspondents
April 19, 2012
A BUDGET FOR ALL: AN ALTERNATIVE VISION FOR AMERICA
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- A few weeks ago, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives approved what Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman called "the most fraudulent budget in American history."
The fiscal year 2013 federal budget authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan drastically cuts taxes on the wealthy and corporations while drastically cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other social welfare spending.
Ryan claims his plan will reduce the federal deficit, but the deficit reduction supposedly will come from closing tax loopholes. To no one's surprise, he has yet to say which specific loopholes would be closed. He has, however, ruled out closing the biggest loophole of them all - the taxing of capital gains at a lower rate than earned income.
President Obama has called the Ryan budget proposal "an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country" and "thinly veiled social Darwinism," but the President has yet to offer support for a honest budget plan that cuts the federal deficit while investing in needed priorities.
That honest budget plan is called The Budget For All, and it was drawn up by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). Their budget states they can reduce "by focusing on the true drivers of our deficit - unsustainable tax policies, the wars overseas, and policies that helped cause the recent recession - rather than putting the middle class's social safety net on the chopping block."
Of course, this budget plan has received almost no attention. Why? Because it was proposed by liberal Democrats, the people that Congressman Allen West, R-Fla., recently called "Communists."
In the eyes of conservatives, and the people in the media that suck up to them, anything that offers benefits for the 99 percent amounts to communism. But The Budget for All is about common sense, rather that coddling the wealthy.
It calls for fairer taxation by ending tax cuts for the top 2 percent of Americans on schedule at year's end, while extending tax relief for lower- and middle-income households. It creates new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, while eliminating the tax code's preferential treatment of capital gains and dividends. It also abolishes corporate welfare for oil, gas and coal companies, and eliminates loopholes that allow businesses to dodge their true tax liability.
As for defense spending, The Budget For All calls for "responsibly and expeditiously" ending the U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and modernizing the Defense Department so it can deal with actual threats, while cutting out expensive weapons systems designed to fight enemies that no longer exist.
The Budget For All would also create a publicly funded federal election system that gets corporate money out of politics for good, as well as invest more money in education and social services, and set aside more than $2.4 trillion in job-creating investments.
"In the CPC's vision for America, we all do better when we all do better," said Congressman Keith Ellison, D-Minn., co-chairman of the CPC. "We reward work, not just wealth. We invest in our people and rebuild America, and we begin to show Washington what a government of, by, and for the people looks like. I think I know which future the American people will choose."
The CPC proposal is strongly popular with most Americans, even though they don't know yet about The Budget For All. Numerous polls have shown Americans prefer taxing the rich more over cutting Social Security and Medicare, and that they support increased spending on infrastructure and job creation.
Since Republicans control the House, the Budget for All will go nowhere. But this is a great plan for Democrats to campaign on - or, at least, the Democrats who have the guts to support a plan that calls for fair taxation, defending the social safety net and invests in the future of our nation.
Too many Democrats are too frightened to take a stand like this. But this is the responsible alternative to the irresponsible policy ideas of Republicans.
In his defense, President Obama's budget has proposed some tax increases of the wealthy, a moderate amount of economic stimulus spending, and a mostly hands-off approach to social welfare spending. But even this mild attempt at stemming the tide of austerity is dead on arrival with Congressional Republicans.
So, I say to Obama and the timid members of the Democratic Party, if you're going to stand for something, stand for something bold, something that lets Americans know beyond all doubt whose side the Democrats are on.
Chief of AR Correspondents Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.