Give The People—And The Peoples Budget—A Seat At The Table

Isaiah J. Poole

Forty-one members of Congress today are calling on the White House to take a simple step toward respecting the views of the American Majority: Include the budget proposal that reflects the American Majority’s priorities in the deficit discussions the White House is now having with Congress. Now if’s your time to make the same demand: ul {margin-left:30px; }

The People’s Budget by the Congressional Progressive Caucus reflects the policy choices that ordinary Americans have said in poll after poll that they would like to see Congress make. (See TheMiddleClass.org analysis of the People’s Budget.) Yet none of the authors of the “People’s Budget” are currently part of the White House-led bipartisan budget negotiations.

In making choices about how to bring the federal deficit down to sustainable levels and set the stage for long-term economic stability, the political debate is going forward as if the only serious option is to cut programs vital to low- and middle-income Americans, and the only real debate is over how much to cut. But as the letter released today by the Progressive Caucus members states, “’Triggers,’ ‘caps’ and other process-related budgetary gimmicks serve only to distract attention from the concrete policy ideas needed to solve the problems we face.”

The People’s Budget does not use deficit triggers or budget caps that force indiscriminate cuts in vital programs, and it does not take the slash-and-burn approach of the Republican budget proposal, which would actually cost the economy jobs in the short run and deprive the economy of key investments in the long run that would foster growth and ensure our global competitiveness. And yet, the People’s Budget cuts $5.6 trillion from the deficit over 10 years, produces a budget surplus, and reduces the country’s long-term debt to below 65 percent of gross domestic product.

The People’s Budget is the proposal that most closely reflects the views of the American majority:

  • It ends the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, supported by 68% of the public (NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Feb. 2011).
  • It cuts wasteful military spending, supported by 67% (First Focus/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll, April 2011).
  • It invests in job creation, instead of cutting vital programs, supported by 56% (Bloomberg poll, March 2011).
  • It rejects cuts in Medicare (76%), Medicaid (67%) and Social Security (77%) benefits (NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Feb. 2011).

Even so, the People’s Budget has received scant media coverage. And the authors of the People’s Budget are not part of the White House-led bipartisan negotiations. At least, not yet.

That’s why you need to make yourself heard. Ask President Obama to let the American Majority be heard. Put the People’s Budget on the negotiating table.

It’s not too much to ask. The People’s Budget is an authentic representation of how the American Majority believes the deficit should be cut and our investments should be protected.

On Wednesday, President Obama counseled “flexibility” in negotiations with Republicans on raising the debt ceiling and a plan for reducing the federal deficit.

But real flexibility means the ability to bend in all directions, and right now the budget debate is bending in only one direction: toward uncompromising small-government conservatives and their corporate benefactors.

Real flexibility means bending toward the concerns of the American people. To make that happen, the expectations of the American Majority need to be represented in the room where any budget agreement will be reached.

Click here and help the American Majority be heard.

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