Budget Deal A Raw Deal For Working Families

Isaiah J. Poole

Our sister site, TheMiddleClass.org, is taking a dim view of the budget deal struck Friday between the White House and Congress for fiscal year 2011. It concedes that it is not as disastrous for middle-class and lower-income people as H.R. 1, the budget the House Republicans passed in February. “But that’s not saying much,” the site says.

With this budget deal, two fundamental problems remain. First, low- and middle-income households are being asked to bear the brunt of the burden for deficit reduction, while people at the top of the income scale and corporations have not been asked to sacrifice anything of consequence. Second, investments we need to make as a nation to build a new foundation for broad middle-class prosperity are being shortchanged. We will pay the price in the form of fewer jobs, stagnant communities and continued slippage in such areas as transportation and renewable energy.

TheMiddleClass.org analysis highlights seven issue areas in which the budget affects that it considers key interests of middle-class and aspiring middle-class people. It also points out that absent from the budget “are moves to close corporate tax loopholes or to eliminate many of the forms of corporate welfare that, if they were made a part of this budget, would make many of these cuts unnecessary and would actually make a greater contribution to closing the federal deficit.”

TheMiddleClass.org gives a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on key legislation voted on by Congress, based on the votes of a control group of progressive members of the House and Senate with a track record of being champions of middle-class concerns. The budget deal won’t be voted on until later this week, so it has yet to receive a thumbs up or down. But the site has already determined that “in no measure can this budget deal be considered a good one for the middle class.”

A budget proposal based on “shared sacrifice” would have demanded something from the 2 percent of Americans who have received the overwhelming share of the economic growth of the past decade, and who bounced back handsomely from the recession. In that respect, this budget fails the fairness test. In cutting programs that would support job creation and economic recovery in the communities that have yet to rebound from the recession, this budget fails the test of adequately supporting the emergence of a new economy for middle-class breadwinners. In protecting the economically vulnerable and ensuring that they have a ladder back upward into economic prosperity, this budget courts failure.

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