Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
The following commentary about the current budget battles in DC was submitted to the Arizona Daily Star for publication. Since the Star chooses to primarily publicize Republican budget plans– and no other ideas, including those proposed by Southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva– they didn’t publish this commentary about the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Back to Work Budget.
The US House of Representatives will be debating this budget (which is actually an amendment to the Ryan Budget) around 1 p.m. Eastern Time on March 20. If you want to put people back to work, tax financial transactions, raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans (instead of lowering them as Ryan has proposed), and preserve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, call your representative (like, now!) and ask them to vote for the Back to Work Budget. Here is the Capitol switchboard (202)-224-3121.
So, here’s what the Arizona Daily Star didn’t want you to read…
On Tuesday, March 12th, the Congressional Progressive Caucus released its proposed federal budget. Dubbed the “Back to Work Budget”, it will be presented as an amendment to the already discredited Paul Ryan and Congressional Majority budget. The CPC budget will reduce the Federal Budget Deficit by more than $4.4 trillion over the next 10 years, will create 7 million new jobs in its first year, and preserve existing benefits for Social Security and Medicare. The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ “Back to Work” budget will also make public healthcare affordable to the nation by offering a public option.
We would be impressed to see a news item about this proposal in theArizona Daily Star. The mainstream media has been running stories daily about the Paul Ryan budget for weeks even though it has little chance of passage. The reality-based CPC “Back to Work” budget is also unlikely to be approved but it represents the views of the largest caucus in Congress, co-led by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva. It deserves the same level of serious attention from the media as an unrealistic “Tea Party budget.”
The CPC budget is self-funding; all of it from new sources. Most likely of those to be vilified opponents will be the proposal to create a financial transaction tax. This will certainly send the Wall Street exchanges and brokerage houses into a tizzy if they can’t manage to suppress the proposal entirely. The budget proposes to raise corporate taxes by ending subsidies to corporations producing overseas. It closes luxury tax loopholes and would raise the highest federal income tax bracket from 45% to 49%.
Most European countries have financial transaction taxes; some recently imposed and some decades old such as that in England. We believe that the extreme concentration of wealth in our economy is counterproductive to job creation and economic progress. Corporations and the very wealthy are awash in cash. Although corporate stock prices have never been higher, they are sluggish to develop expanded lines of production and hire new workers. Nowhere do we see, for instance, pools of capital investment forming to replace the 70,000 decrepit bridges and deteriorating highways in America. Nowhere do we see corporations forming to provide no cost childcare and adult homecare for millions of poor Americans. We believe that breaking the cycle of poverty, which lead to higher tax revenues and consumer purchasing power, is possible with proper program planning and adequate funding. The private sector has never stepped up to address these societal challenges.
Aside from moralistic arguments, it is the domain and the responsibility of the public sector to take economically sound steps to invest in infrastructure, provide care for those who cannot care for themselves, and protect the working class. The Federal Government, if it adopts the realistic “Back to Work” budget will have a plan to accelerate the economic recovery, put the country in the black, and put us on a strong competitive footing for the global economy.
Jim Hannley Chair, Economic and Social Justice IOT. Progressive Democrats of America, Tucson Chapter
Don Jorgensen, Chair, Pima County Democratic Party
(Grijalva with CPC co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison are pictured above.)