fresh voices from the front lines of change







The Progressive Caucus People's Budget, as expected, went down to defeat on the House floor today, but not before it picked up 96 Democratic votes, a majority of Democrats. The budget got 330 nays, including 86 from Democrats.

The People's Budget did get fewer votes than Democratic alternatives proposed by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and the Congressional Black Caucus, but it got a larger share of Democratic votes than it did in previous years. Republicans, not surprisingly, were unanimous in opposition. (See who voted for the People's Budget, from the House Office of the Clerk.)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, led the debate in support of the budget on the House floor.

"Corporations are pocketing record profits by driving down wages with one hand, increasing the cost of basic building blocks of a happy life on the other. Where does that leave working families? Huddled around a dinner table with their paychecks, doing the math in their head, wondering if they can make ends meet this month," Ellison said. Holing up a chart, he continued, "This shows clearly median income for all families down 8 percent between 2000 and 2012. Price of rent's up. Medical care up. Child care up. Higher ed way up. The People's Budget responds directly to the needs of the American people."

Ellison pointed out that the Progressive Caucus budget specifically promises to produce 8.4 million new jobs through a specific set of policies. The Republican budget, he noted, makes no similar job-creation commitment.

"Republicans are clearly angry we are ending this special treatment of Wall Street buddies, meanwhile they have no problem ending tax credits for low and middle-income families," said Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), while including "a promise to spend hundreds of billions on high income and corporate tax cuts."

Republicans "say they are seeking to balance the budget. They are balancing this budget on the backs of the middle class while cutting taxes for the wealthy and well-connected, and getting to balance through irresponsible budget gimmicks," Grijavla said.

House Republicans took to budget to task because, unlike the House Republican budget, it does not slash domestic spending in a quest to "balance" the budget in 10 years. They pointed out that under the budget government spending would take a larger share of the economy, and so would the taxes to fund it. For those who follow Republican talking points on budget matters, there were no surprises or novel rejoinders against the budget.

But Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) said, "The Republican budget means Americans will work harder and earn less. It will be harder to buy a home, harder to send your children to college and harder to save for a secure retirement. It will do nothing to grow wages or help people get ahead, but it will do one thing for the people in the middle class. it will give you a $2,000 tax increase so that the wealthiest in this country can get a tax break. ... The People's Budget boosts economic opportunity for more Americans and gives hardworking Americans a raise."

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