Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Keith Ellison, D-Minn., are trying to get political support for a congressional resolution that would repudiate any “grand bargain” on the federal deficit that cuts Social Security, Medicare or other programs vital to economic security.
Their resolution calls for a “Deal for All” that would protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; contain “serious revenue increases,” including corporate tax loopholes and higher tax brackets for the highest-income earners; significant reductions in defense spending; and “strong levels of job-creating Federal investments in areas such as infrastructure and education.”
The Caucus co-chairs issued a joint statement that said, “Congress is gearing up for high-stakes tax and budget negotiations, and we’re standing with working families to make sure we build a stronger and fairer economy. While both parties will need to make sacrifices, we cannot do so at the expense of economic growth or the middle class. A balanced approach like the Deal for All would end tax breaks for the richest 2 percent, close tax loopholes for the wealthy and special interests, and ensure Americans don’t lose the benefits they’ve paid into for decades such as Social Security and Medicare.”
The “Deal for All” stands in sharp contrast to the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan offered by the co-chairmen of President Obama’s fiscal commission, Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson. That plan would, among other things, lower tax rates on the wealthiest Americans while cutting more than $400 billion from Medicare and Medicaid over the next 10 years and reducing cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients.
Many Democrats are being pushed into believing that such policies are necessary to keep the government and the economy from falling over a “fiscal cliff” by the end of the year. Fortunately, some of these Democrats are pushing back, arguing that this is the time to end flawed tax policies that favored the wealthy at the expense of working-class Americans, and reject the austerity policies that we see failing miserably in Europe.
So far 38 members of the House have signed on to the resolution. Ask your member of Congress if he or she will also co-sponsor the resolution. The answer will tell you a lot about whether you are represented by a lawmaker who sides with rebuilding the middle class on a platform of shared prosperity or one who is all too happy to make a “grand bargain” with the 1 percent that shafts the rest of us.