By Reps. Raúl Grijalva, Mike Honda and Lynn Woolsey
Special to Roll Call
May 3, 2011, Midnight
When the debate over the fiscal 2012 budget began, the country — or, more accurately, the media — was focused on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposal. Introduced on behalf of the Republican House majority, our colleague’s plan puts the interests of wealthy corporations first by slashing Medicare and Medicaid and spending trillions on a new corporate tax cut.
Indeed, cutting is all it seems to do. The Ryan plan slashes transportation investments in roads, bridges, rail lines, transit systems and airports by $318 billion over the next 10 years. It cuts 1.7 million low-income students from Pell Grant eligibility. That’s not a jobs plan — that’s an economic death sentence.
The public isn’t buying it. An April 17 Washington Post/ABC poll found what countless polls have told us before: An overwhelming majority (72 percent in this case) supports the highest earners paying more of their fair share in taxes as the best way to eliminate the national debt. There’s good reason we saw this ThinkProgress headline April 20: “Paul Ryan Booed At Town Hall For Defending Tax Breaks For The Wealthy.”
A serious conversation about our nation’s fiscal future can’t begin and end with a plan that the public finds too radical to support. That’s why the Congressional Progressive Caucus introduced its People’s Budget alternative April 15 on the floor of the House.
Our plan generates a government surplus within 10 years, by closing tax loopholes that let companies ship jobs overseas, eliminating expensive oil and gas subsidies, ending our wars abroad and creating jobs. Republicans tend to view the budget as a question of how to shrink rather than how to grow. The People’s Budget allows the economy to grow by investing wisely, cutting prudently and ensuring that all people pay their fair share.
The budget should make the country stronger. Republicans keep telling us we have to “make tough choices,” “be responsible” and “take our medicine.” They’re all austerity and no prosperity. They never talk about how their budget actually creates jobs, or protects health care, or improves education, or upgrades infrastructure — because it doesn’t do any of those things.
The People’s Budget rolls back the irresponsible Bush-era tax giveaways and invests $1.7 trillion in job training, infrastructure and other priorities that have languished for too long.
That’s why we’re calling on the Senate to take up the people’s values, and the People’s Budget, in the coming days and weeks. Especially popular elements, including a fairer tax code for millionaires and billionaires, would be potent messages back home as well as in the halls of Congress. It’s a no-brainer for our colleagues across the Hill, and it’s what the voters have already said they expect from us. When the Senate follows through, the whole country will reap the rewards.