Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Progressive Budget

True to form, the national media are ignoring the Back-to-Work Budget of the House Progressive Caucus -- but this is the only budget presented by anyone so far that (a) does not kowtow to the wealthy or business interests, (b) that contains a Financial Transactions Tax, and (c) that will save money by adding a "Public Option" to the Affordable Care Act.

Paul Krugman weighs in with his support here. Note that the ideas in the "Back-to-Work" budget have been presented before -- it was reviewed in 2011 by Krugman here. The reason I mention this is that these ideas -- cutting defense spending, raising taxes on high incomes, the Public Option and cutting over-the-top payments in healthcare, and a Financial Transactions Tax -- are not new. They just don't get any press. Contrast that with the tiresome references to the Simpson-Bowles plan, a basically right-wing schema, which is only slightly less conservative than Paul Ryan's "budget" philosophy. Alan Simpson is the 100% intellectual lightweight and the ex-Senator from Nowhere (Wyo.); Erskine Bowles is a Senator from the Business Community. The basic "idea" behind Simpson-Bowles is that the poor and middle-class, whose real incomes have been flat at best, should share equally in the burdens of deficit reduction with the wealthy, whose wealth has exploded in recent decades. (This is similar to the pop news media idea that if there are two opinions on something, each is about half correct, no matter the evidence or the logic.)

One of the reason that I stopped blogging for nearly two months is that I couldn't bear to think about all the nonsense concerning "sequestration" I was seeing in the press (e.g. that Social Security has anything to do with budget deficits). Neither of the two political parties was talking about anything practical, humane or progressive. So I figured I would let the baloney storms (and snow storms) die down a bit. IMHO the Back-to-Work budget is the only budget I can support. Until the Democrats understand and back it, and actually fight the Republicans publicly on these issues as if it were a presidential campaign, there will be nothing significant happening. We'll have higher healthcare costs, more Wall Street abuses, and more income inequality. Furthermore, when the already inevitable climate change starts to cause very -- and I mean very -- serious problems, we will be completely unprepared since we will have cut back on scientific research and fact-gathering (activities that don't get much respect from Republicans).

Wish I could bring more cheerful news.


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