The Congressional Progressive Caucus has released its People's Budget for fiscal 2017, featuring a $1 trillion commitment to rebuilding America's infrastructure that includes billions of dollars to replace water lines in Flint, Mich., and elsewhere.
The budget is projected to create "3.6 million good paying jobs to push our economy back to full employment, which will provide the necessary economic conditions to spur across-the-board wage growth for hardworking Americans." It would also increase spending in virtually every major domestic program category, including education, housing and antipoverty programs. It would also direct the country to make major strides toward a green energy-based economy to fulfill the commitments the United States made at last year's Paris climate change accords.
While the budget was not drafted in coordination with Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, it closely tracks much of his agenda. Sanders, for example, has proposed his own $1 trillion infrastructure spending program, and has made debt-free college a major priority, which is fleshed out in the People's Budget in the form of a federal matching program for state investments that enable students to go to college without taking on debt.
To address the water crisis in Flint, Mich., caused by corroded lead pipes, the budget would allocate $765 million to replace the pipes and provide remedial services to families affected by lead poisoning. That's part of a $150 billion nationwide program to replace water pipes that in many communities are more than a century old and have been prone to increasing numbers of disruptive breaks.
The budget also reprises previous proposals to make the tax code more fair. The budget, as in previous years, raises the tax rate on investment income to be equal to the tax rate on earned wages, and adds tax brackets of between 45 percent and 49 percent for earnings of more than $1 million. To help fund infrastructure investment, the People's Budget embraces a new proposal from President Obama to levy a per-barrel tax on oil as an alternative to increasing the excise tax on retail gasoline. The budget also would close corporate tax loopholes, including ones that encourage corporations to hide profits in overseas tax havens.
There are several policy changes that the People's Budget would drive, including an increase in the minimum wage, mandated paid sick leave, stronger labor rights protections, and criminal justice reforms.
Through a combination of increased revenue and significantly faster economic growth than what is currently projected, the federal deficit would fall in 10 years from its current trajectory of 5 percent of gross domestic product to just over 2 percent.
The People's Budget will be used by a broad network of organizations over the coming weeks to highlight the priorities that progressives want candidates to adopt. The budget itself is designed to be a fiscally responsible, economically sound and common-sense blueprint for how progressive policies can spur economic growth and spread the benefits of economic recovery to communities and families not yet reached by it. House Democrats will in particular will be judged by their willingness to support the budget – at least as a statement of solidarity with its goals.
To show your support for the People's Budget, sign this petition. If you want to find or organize an event in your congressional district to promote the People's Budget, use this link by People Demanding Action.