At a lively press conference yesterday on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), one of the largest caucuses in Congress, released The People's Budget: A Raise for America. The topline numbers are impressive: 8.4 million good-paying jobs by 2018 as well as $820 billion in infrastructure and transportation improvements and $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years.
The EPI Policy Center has analyzed the People's Budget closely and finds that it would, among many outcomes, accelerate the economic recovery, promote full employment, strengthen social insurance, smartly cut spending, fairly tax the wealthy and corporations, and reduce the debt ratio to a sustainable 66 percent of GDP by 2025.
One of the main sources of funding for the investments in the People's Budget is a financial transaction tax. While it would mean fees of only fractions of a percent on Wall Street trades, it is projected to raise $921 billion over 10 years. CEPR's Dean Baker has long been one of the main proponents of this idea as a way to reduce dangerous market speculation and even help regular investors save money.
Another part of the People's Budget that supports an initiative championed by Dean is called the "federal-state unemployment insurance system." We've been informed by CPC staff that this allocation would extend federal financing of work-sharing benefits and give states an extra year to qualify for the program. As a result, participating states would see some relief to their unemployment insurance funds as well as be better-prepared to avoid layoffs in the future.
Recognizing the need for policies that encourage work-family balance, the People's Budget also provides states with funding and technical assistance to start paid leave programs. CEPR's Eileen Appelbaum has written a book that looks at California's decade-old paid family leave program and has found that large majorities of employers reported negligible or positive impacts on productivity, profitability, and performance. New Jersey has had such a program in place for over five years, and Eileen's report on that program reveals that the law has had little to no impact on how companies do business in the state.
There are several other provisions and endorsements in the People's Budget that address issues that CEPR's economists have written on regularly, including the minimum wage, right-to-work, updating overtime regulations, providing workers with paid sick leave, and allowing the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices.
Last year, the Progressive Caucus' budget received 89 votes. It seems that they're on track to top that when the People's Budget comes up for a vote next week. As support for a progressive vision of the federal budget and U.S. economy continues to grow, it should become impossible for the mainstream media and general public to ignore.