As a mark-up session for the House Republican budget for fiscal 2013 was taking place in the House Budget Committee hearing room, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus were outside presenting the outlines of their alternative, designed to put jobs and rebuilding the middle class first.
"The process that is going on in this room is warped," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pointing to the House Budget Committee room.
The process that he was referring to was deliberation over the budget introduced by Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, which Robert Borosage has said reflects the choice of House Republicans "to be the tribunes of the 1 percent, willing to destroy basic elements of the American dream in service of that cause."
The Congressional Progressive Caucus is calling its alternative "The Budget for All." Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison said the choice to call it a budget "for all" is intended to emphasize the contrast between it and a Republican budget that is designed to keep the top 1 percent wealthy at the expense of the rest of America.
"Our budget does a few key things," Ellison said at a news conference. "One, it investments in America's future by creating jobs up front, with the proper investments. ... Also, it preserves our safety net. No cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. It persons the tax code. Our tax code needs to reflect the resources available across America to pay for the needs of Americans, and not exempt people or give them a break simply because they have the money to get people to give them tax breaks and loopholes. And finally, it is a fiscally responsible budget; it is a budget that reduces the deficit."
The details of how the budget accomplishes that will be released on Thursday. But the basics are that the budget allocates more than $2 trillion over 10 years to specific job-creating activities, ranging from school and transportation reconstruction to boosting clean energy and manufacturing businesses. It pays for that investment by ending tax cuts for the top 2 percent of Americans; ending loopholes for oil, gas and coal companies; and closing other corporate tax loopholes.
By contrast, said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Calif., "Republicans on the Budget Committee are going to press forward with a budget that asks ask low- and middle-income taxpayers to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction, while giving massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and preserving huge giveaways for the big oil companies."
Ryan, when he presented his budget on Tuesday, said that the only two choices America faced was a future of debt and decline and a future under his budget, in which the federal government would stop supporting economically struggling Americans, but would continue to prop up the wealthy. The Progressive Caucus' budget shows that there is another choice: jobs and economic security for all Americans, in which each segment of the society contributes based on the extent of what they have.
"This budget is a contrast," Grijalva said, "and we are very very comfortable presenting that contrast to our colleagues and to the American people."