It’s true that the American public is tired of gridlock in Washington and would welcome signs that conservative obstruction is ending. But let’s be very clear here. The federal budget deal reached in Congress this week is not one that is supported by the majority of Americans:
64 percent believe creating jobs should be the president’s and Congress’s top priority; only 33 percent think the top priority should be deficit reduction.
- 53 percent favor replacing automatic cuts with revenue.
- 82 percent believe that tax reform revenue should be used for public investment and deficit reduction, not rate cuts for the wealthy or corporations.
- 66 percent of Americans say the richest 2 percent should pay more in taxes.
- 61 percent of people believe upper-income people pay too little in taxes. Only 21 percent would say upper-income people or corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
- 77 percent favor hiring people to do urgent infrastructure repairs. (That drops to 72 percent if the words “government spending” are used.)
- 75 percent favor a government job-creation program to hire one million people. (Support drops to 72 percent if the words “government spending” are used.)
The current deal reflects none of the above. It fails to raise taxes on our wealthiest or Wall Street, contains no investments that are vital to our future, and continues to emphasize deficit reduction over job creation. Instead, Americans will now be forced to pay higher prices for airline tickets and public workers will have to contribute more to their pensions. What a deal!
Now let’s envision for a moment that the people elected to Congress weren’t self-interested and actually listened to the people they serve. Such a budget deal would start by repealing the sequester and making investments vital to the economy – in infrastructure, education, and research and development. The investments would be paid for by closing loopholes that allow corporations to dodge taxes, eliminating all subsidies to the oil industry, and raising taxes on the top one percent of our society, to name a few. It would also strengthen our social safety net, not shred it to pieces.
Congress needs to get back to work by getting in touch with the American majority. This is unlikely, but that’s what election years are for.