Back Bernie’s Budget—Yes To Jobs, No To Austerity

Isaiah J. Poole

As progressive leaders from around the country prepare for next week’s Take Back the American Dream conference, we’re not waiting to start hitting Congress with our key demand: Bury austerity, put jobs first and resurrect the middle class.

We’re asking you to sign the “Bernie Budget,” Sen. Bernie Sanders plan to grow the economy now, close the tax loopholes through which millionaires escape paying their fair share, and to responsibly pay down the deficits run up as a result of wrong-headed conservative economic policies.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who will be a featured speaker at Take Back the American Dream, has crafted a truly responsible deficit reduction plan. Robust investments to create jobs. Fair taxes for the wealthy. Ending bloated Pentagon spending.

Some of the key features of the Bernie Budget would:

  • Create millions of jobs rebuilding our roads, bridges, water systems, airports and public transportation, taking advantage of today’s rock-bottom borrowing costs.
  • Crack down on offshore tax shelters, which could raise $1 trillion over the next decade for public needs and deficit reduction.
  • Raise more than $1.4 trillion over the next decade by repealing the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 and taxing investment income received by the wealthy at the same rate as the wages received by working people.
  • Reform and reprioritize Pentagon spending, saving at least an additional trillion dollars over 10 years, based on 21st-century needs rather than the long-gone Cold War.
  • Reject Medicare and Social Security benefit cuts and shore up the long-term financial stability of those programs by allowing the government to negotiate better deals with pharmaceutical companies and by lifting the payroll cap on Social Security benefits for those earning more than $250,000 a year.
  • Impose a “currency manipulation fee” on China, which would raise a potential $500 billion over 10 years and would help level the playing field for American-based manufacturers.

Sanders proves that fiscal responsibility does not require gutting Social Security. Medicare or the programs struggling families need to get back on their feet. Imagine that.

We’re aiming to get at least an additional 10,000 signatures onto this budget petition by this weekend. The only way we can break the grip that the pro-austerity Washington elite has on the debate is to make enough noise that we cannot be ignored. The more signatures we can give Sen. Sanders, the more leverage he will have when the budget debate comes to a head later this year.

And the more people who come to Take Back the American Dream, the harder it will be for the politicians and the media to dismiss progressive ideas that are big enough to solve our big jobs crisis.

Sanders said it best himself at a rally earlier this week in front of the Capitol.

“Let’s be clear,” Sanders said. “We are in the midst of a deficit crisis because George Bush took us into two wars and forgot to pay for them. We are in the midst of a deficit crisis because Bush and his friends decided to give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. We are in the midst of a deficit crisis because this recession caused by the greed of Wall Street has resulted in substantially less revenue coming into federal coffers.

“In my view,” Sanders added, “it is immoral and bad economics to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid because the president and Congress forgot to pay for wars and gave huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country.”

Our economy is on the brink. The austerity posse is determined to tip it over just so they can get what they really want: a shriveled Social Security, a gutted Medicare and a decimated federal government.

We can’t sit quietly and let that happen.

Sign the Bernie Budget petition. Come to Take Back the American Dream. Be heard. Fight—and win.

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