A Message to Our Congressman: Get Serious About Jobs and Economy

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Congressional Progressive Caucus presenting its budget

8.4 Million Good Paying Jobs By 2018

$1.9 Trillion Investment In America’s Future

$820 billion infrastructure and transportation improvements

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The People’s Budget fixes an economy that, for too long, has failed to provide the opportunities American families need to get ahead. Despite their skills and work ethic, most American workers and families are so financially strapped from increasing income inequality that their paychecks barely cover basic necessities. They earn less and less as corporations and the wealthy continue amassing record profits. It has become clear to American workers that the system is rigged.

The People’s Budget levels the playing field and creates economic opportunity by increasing the pay of middle-and low-income Americans. More customers and higher consumer spending advance American businesses, not tax cuts and relaxed regulations. The People’s Budget drives a full economic recovery by creating high-quality jobs and reducing family expenses, restoring the buying power of working Americans.

The People’s Budget closes tax loopholes that companies use to ship jobs overseas. It creates fair tax rates for millionaires and provides needed relief to low-and middle-income families. It invests in debt-free college, workforce training and small businesses within our communities, helping return our economy to full employment and giving a raise to Americans who need it most. Investments in The People’s Budget boost employment and wages by addressing some of the biggest challenges of our time: repairing America’s rapidly aging roads and bridges, upgrading our energy systems to address climate change, keeping our communities safe, and preparing our young people to thrive as citizens and workers.

A fair wage is more than the size of a paycheck. It’s having enough hours, paid overtime, sick and parental leave, and affordable health and childcare. It’s being able to afford a good education for your kids and never living in fear that your job will be sent overseas. It’s knowing you can make ends meet at the end of the month. The People’s Budget helps achieve that with a raise for American workers, a raise for struggling families and a boost to America’s long-term global competitiveness.

A RAISE FOR AMERICA
o    Creates more than 8 million good jobs by 2018.
o    Increases functionality of Worker Protection Agencies.
o    Includes a four percent raise for federal workers.
o    Provides Paid Leave Initiative and Child Care.
o    Supports a minimum wage increase and Collective Bargaining.

AUSTERITY TO PROSPERITY
o    Repeals sequester and all Budget Control Act spending caps.
o    Increases discretionary funding to invest in working families.
o    Reverses harmful cuts and enhances social safety net.
o    Invests in veterans, women, communities of color and their families.

FAIR INDIVIDUAL TAXES

o    Equalizes tax rates for investment income and income from work.
o    Returns to Clinton-era tax rates for households making over $250,000 and implements new brackets for those making over $1 million.
o    Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Care Credit.

FAIR CORPORATE TAXES
o    Eliminates the ability of U.S. corporations to defer taxes on offshore profits.
o    Ends corporate inversions that allow U.S. companies to merge offshore to avoid taxes.
o    Enacts a Financial Transaction Tax on various financial market transactions.
o    Ends unlimited executive pay tax write-offs.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR EVERY STUDENT
o    Provides debt-free college to every student. o    Allows refinancing of student loans.
o    Invests in K-12 and provides free pre-school.

AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE
o    Repeals excise tax on high-priced workers plans and replaces with public option.
o    Implements drug price negotiation for Medicare.
o    Reauthorizes Children’s Health Insurance Program.
o    Allows states to transition to single-payer health care systems.

PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT
o    Closes tax loopholes and ends subsidies provided to oil, gas and coal companies.
o    Enacts a price on carbon pollution without hurting low-income families.
o    Invests in clean and renewable energy and green manufacturing.

SUSTAINABLE DEFENSE
o    Modernizes our defense posture to create sustainable baseline defense spending.
o    Ends emergency funding for Overseas Contingency Operations.
o    Increases funding for diplomacy and invests in job transition programs.

COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM

Implements comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship.

ACCESS TO HOUSING

Fully funds programs to make housing affordable and accessible for all Americans.

 
PUBLIC FINANCING OF CAMPAIGNS

Funds public financing of campaigns to curb special interest influence in politics.

For more information, go HERE

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Analysis of 2016 People’s Budget

Grijalva EllisonThe ‘People’s Budget’Analysis of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget for Fiscal Year 2016

Executive summary

http://www.epi.org/publication/the-peoples-budget-analysis-of-the-congressional-progressive-caucus-budget-for-fiscal-year-2016/

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has unveiled its fiscal year 2016 (FY2016) budget, titled The People’s Budget—A Raise for America. It builds on recent CPC budget alternatives in prioritizing near-term job creation, financing public investments, strengthening the middle and working classes, raising adequate revenue to meet budgetary needs while restoring fairness to the tax code, protecting social insurance programs, and ensuring fiscal sustainability.

Refer to the end of this paper for Figures A–C, visualizing the People’s Budget’s impacts on deficits, debt, and nondefense discretionary funding; Tables 1 and 2 detailing the policy changes within the budget; and summary tables 1 through 4 depicting budget totals as well as comparisons with the current law baseline.

The People’s Budget aims to improve the economic well-being of the working and middle classes by focusing on finally closing the persistent jobs gap, and it provides substantial upfront economic stimulus for that purpose. This paper details the baseline assumptions, policy changes, and budgetary modeling used in developing and scoring the People’s Budget, and it analyzes the budget’s cumulative fiscal and economic impacts, notably its near-term impacts on economic recovery and employment.1

We find that the People’s Budget would have significant, positive impacts. Specifically, it would:

  • Accelerate the economic recovery. The People’s Budget would sharply accelerate economic and employment growth. It would boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 3.9 percent and employment by 4.7 million jobs at its peak level of effectiveness (within one year of implementation), while ensuring that fiscal support lasts long enough to avoid future “fiscal cliffs” that could throw recovery into reverse.2
  • Promote job growth and achieve full employment. The budget’s near-term economic stimulus measures would create 4.7 million jobs in calendar year 2015 and an additional 3.8 million jobs over the following two years. By the end of calendar year 2018 the People’s Budget would support 9.1 million job years and would ensure a prompt and durable return to full employment.
  • Make necessary public investments. The budget finances roughly $528 billion in job creation and public investment measures in calendar year 2015 alone and roughly $1.34 trillion over calendar years 2015–2017.3 This fiscal expansion is consistent with the amount of fiscal support needed to rapidly reduce labor market slack and restore the economy to full health.
  • Facilitate economic opportunity for all. By expanding tax credits and other programs for middle- and working-class workers, boosting public employment, and incentivizing employers to create new jobs, the People’s Budget aims to boost economic opportunity for all segments of the population.
  • Strengthen social insurance. The People’s Budget strengthens the social safety net and proposes no benefit reductions to social insurance programs—in other words, it does not rely on simple cost-shifting to reduce the budgetary strain of health programs. Instead, it uses government purchasing power to lower health care costs (health care costs are the largest threat to long-term fiscal sustainability) and builds upon efficiency savings from the Affordable Care Act. The budget also expands and extends emergency unemployment benefits and increases funding for education, training, employment, and social services as well as income security programs in the discretionary budget.4
  • Smartly cut spending. The budget focuses on modern security needs by repealing sequestration cuts and spending caps that affect the Defense Department but replacing them with similarly sized funding reductions. It ends emergency overseas contingency operation spending in FY2016 and beyond, and ensures a slow rate of spending growth for the Defense Department for the remainder of the decade.
  • Ask everyone to contribute his or her fair share. The budget restores adequate revenue and pushes back against income inequality by adding higher marginal tax rates for millionaires and billionaires, equalizing the tax treatment of capital income and labor income, restoring a more progressive estate tax, eliminating inefficient corporate tax loopholes, levying a tax on systemically important financial institutions, and enacting a financial transactions tax, among other tax policies.
  • Reduce the deficit in the medium term. The budget increases near-term deficits to boost job creation, but reduces the deficit in FY2017 and beyond relative to CBO’s current law baseline. The budget would achieve primary budget balance (excluding net interest) and sustainable budget deficits below 2 percent of GDP in FY2017 and beyond.
  • Target a sustainable debt level. After increasing near-term borrowing to restore full employment, the budget gradually reduces the debt ratio to a fully sustainable 66.0 percent of GDP by FY2025. Relative to current law, the budget would reduce public debt by $3.2 trillion (11.6 percent of GDP).

2016 “People’s Budget: A Raise for America” Unveiled

keith ellisonDueling Visions: The CPC People’s Budget vs. the Budget for the 1%

MARCH 18, 2015

The Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled its fiscal 2016 “People’s Budget: A Raise For America” one day after House Republicans released their “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America” proposal. The CPC touted a $1.9 trillion investment in America’s future and over 8 million new jobs. The House Republicans bragged about cutting $5 trillion over 10 years. The sharp contrast between the two reflect stark differences in values and ideology – and a basic choice of whether government will serve the many or the few.

The Republican budget is rightly scorned as a fantasy, a dishonest, Orwellian document,packed with magic asterisks and budget sleight of hand. But what is interesting is what Republicans claim that they value.

Republicans believe the rich and corporations have too little money and pay too much in taxes. They believe that Wall Street needs more freedom and less regulation. They believe that too many Americans have health insurance, that the poor have too much support, that schools need less money, that college should be less affordable to children from low-wage families. They believe that the Pentagon should get more money, and fight more wars. They believe that coal and oil need subsidy, not regulation.

They argue that the economy will grow faster if government spending is cut, regulations rolled back, and budgets balanced. Balancing the budget over 10 years is important enough that they sacrifice all credibility by packing the budget with omissions and distortions in order to reach the goal nominally. But balancing the budget is not important enough to ask the rich and corporations to pay an additional dime in taxes.

The CPC budget is fiscally cautious: It would bring America’s annual deficits down and begin to reduce the national debt as a percentage of GDP. But it is grounded in the reality that America faces major challenges that can no longer be ignored.

The CPC believes that our infrastructure is dangerously outmoded, so it makes a down payment on rebuilding America. It believes climate change is real, so invests in new energy and in aiding communities already staggered by extreme weather events. It believes education is vital, so it invests in universal pre-k, aid to schools and debt-free four-year college.

The CPC believes workers need a raise. So it lifts the minimum wage, calls for strengthening the workers right to organize, and lifts the floor with paid sick days, family leave, a crackdown on wage theft, revised overtime and more. It would continue health care reform, preserve Medicare and expand Social Security.

To pay for this, the CPC exacts savings from areas of massive waste. It would trim the Pentagon budget, and require an audit for the first time. It would end subsidies to Big Oil and limit them to agribusiness. It would empower Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts on prescription drugs, and create a public option in Obamacare to keep insurance companies honest.

And the CPC insists that the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. It would create new tax brackets for those making a million or more. The People’s Budget raises the estate tax for the super-wealthy. It taxes the income of investors at the same rates as the income of workers. It terminates deferral, which allows multinationals to avoid taxes on money they report as earned abroad.

And the CPC argues we should tax “bads” to reduce them. It would impose a tax on polluters for carbon emissions, rebating a quarter of the revenue to protect low-wage families. It would hike taxes on cigarettes. It would impose a tax on speculation – a financial transactions tax – to curb destabilizing, computer-driven trading. It would end tax breaks for perverse CEO compensation policies.

The CPC argues the economy suffers from an absence of demand, partly driven by extreme inequality and the hollowing out of the middle class. Government investment in vital areas provides good jobs, moves the economy towards full employment and boosts demand. Government action to lift the floor under workers will help generate demand. Government crackdown on Wall Street speculation, CEOs looting companies and multinationals shipping jobs abroad will help drive investment into the real economy, not the financial casino.

The question really is who is the master? Who does government serve? Revealingly, the CPC People’s Budget provides for public financing of elections, seeking to limit the corruptions of big money. Republicans, not surprisingly, oppose any restriction on money politics.

The Republican budget – gimmicks, perverse priorities and all – will pass the House. The CPC People’s Budget will struggle to win 100 votes on the floor. But the former only reinforces what ails us. The latter offers an alternative that makes sense, that adds up. There is a way up. The rules don’t have to be rigged to favor the few. But it will take a sea change in Washington for common sense to gain majority support.

AFL-CIO Suspends Campaign Donations to Stop Trade Deal

AFL-CIO Suspends Political Contributions to Focus on Trade Fight Against White House

Mar 11, 2015 2:43 PM EDT
The labor organization says it will focus on fighting the White House over President Obama’s trade deals.
trade protester

A protester makes her case against the Trans-Pacific Partnership during a Senate hearing on the trade deal.

The AFL-CIO, which has spent heavily to support Democrats at the ballot box, said Wednesday it was freezing its political-action committee donations to federal candidates so it could focus on upcoming trade fights.

The labor group will fight trade deals with countries in the Pacific Rim that the White House has been pushing. Such deals, the organization said in a February statement, have promised higher wages and bigger markets to American workers but instead resulted in jobs being sent overseas.

“U.S. trade deals—from NAFTA and CAFTA to Korea and Colombia—form a mountain of broken promises made to workers,” the statement said.

President Obama, who twice received endorsements from the AFL-CIO, has faced resistance from his own party on the deals, including from Representatives Keith Ellison and Rosa Delauro and Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Bob Casey.

“I have real concerns about it,” Casey told Bloomberg on Wednesday. “I just look at this from the perspective of Pennsylvania: We seem to be getting the short end of every stick after each trade agreement is entered into.”

Although GOP congressional leaders support the deals, conservative Republicans have expressed concerns that negotiating the trade deal would mean extending to the president more power than they would like because he is requesting authority to “fast-track” the deals, meaning Congress could only vote on them but not amend them.

“For Congress to cede oversight on such a sweeping agreement could have grave implications,” freshman Representative Steve Russell, an Oklahoma Republican, wrote on Wednesday in theHill.

AFL-CIO EXECUTIVE COUNCIL LETTER URGES CONGRESS TO STAND WITH WORKERS BY OPPOSING FAST TRACK

The labor movement will be closely monitoring how members of Congress vote on a forthcoming Trade Promotion Authority bill also known as “Fast-Track”. In a letter from the national AFL-CIO Executive Council to members of Congress, which you can view HERE, national union leaders expressed strong opposition to this bill, which would shut the public out of major trade negotiations that impact American wages and jobs as well as undermine global working conditions, environmental standards, and labor rights.

In addition to this letter, the AFL-CIO Executive Council agreed to a proposal to suspend political contributions to lawmakers until after the Fast-Track vote in Congress. According to a story by Press Associates, Inc. (PAI), union leaders also agreed that lawmakers’ votes on Fast-Track would be an important factor in determining future financial support for candidates.

Fast-Track is a reckless and undemocratic policy that allows for the authorization of trade deals with a simple up-or-down vote. This process has resulted in one-sided trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA that have cost our country millions of jobs, reduced wages, and suppressed working standards around the world in order to clear the way for massive corporate profits. President Obama and Congressional leaders are now seeking to use Fast-Track authority to pass an equally destructive trade deal call the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which you can learn more about HERE. You can also take action now by sending a message asking your members of Congress to oppose Fast-Track.

The message being sent by the national labor movement to Congress is clear: Fast-Track trade deals mean fewer jobs, lower wages, and a declining middle class. Members of Congress who are committed to strengthening the middle class through good jobs and fair trade must stand up to oppose Fast-Track.

2016’s Untold Story: How The Election Could Bring A New Wave Of Progressive Warriors

 

While the presidential contest consumes much of our attention, down-ballot races could power a liberal revival

By Luke Brinker
Progressive America Rising via Salon.com

March 10, 2015 – As America marches inexorably toward a presidential election that will almost certainly feature another Clinton, possibly pitted against yet another Bush, a sense of resignation and fatalism has taken hold among many observers on both the progressive left and the anti-establishment right.

While Jeb and Hillary would trade barbs on such perennial wedges issues as abortion and same-sex marriage, and Clinton may be more supportive than Bush of what passes for a social safety net in this country — just don’t mind that bit about ending welfare as we knew it, and try not to focus on that pesky vote for bankruptcy “reform” — neither Wall Street-friendly candidate poses a threat to the plutocratic powers that be. Indeed, the masters of the universe can’t quite decide which of the two they’d prefer to see elected. Either way, they rest assured, they win.

Dispiriting as the coming national contest can be, however, it should not obscure one of the less-discussed dynamics of the 2016 elections: Across the country, a crop of unapologetically progressive candidates promises to infuse a new populist energy into the fight for the U.S. Senate, and may well transform the terms of debate within a Democratic Party that has spent the better part of the past three decades reconciling itself to the Reagan Revolution and embracing neoliberalism.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-The Elizabeth Warren Wing) is the latest progressive to toss her hat into the Senate ring, announcing today that she will seek the seat being vacated by Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski. Though she has served in Congress for six years now, Edwards is fundamentally an insurgent: The community activist won her seat after toppling a hawkish, centrist incumbent in the Democratic primary, and as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Populist Caucus, she’s been at the forefront of the effort to move the Democrats leftward on issues like austerity, a living wage, foreign policy, and civil liberties. Befitting her congressional service, Edwards plans to run as an unabashed progressive populist.

“The corporate interests are gonna come at me with all their money,” Edwards tells voters in her announcement video. “But if you’ll join me in this fight there’s no way we can’t win. and when I step into Barbara Mikulski’s shoes as your next senator, you’ll always know where I stand — with you.”

Edwards won’t enjoy a clear Democratic field: Fellow Rep. Chris Van Hollen has already launched his bid for Mikulski’s seat, and he has secured the backing of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Though Van Hollen has put forth some worthy proposals on economic issues, he’s hardly the most progressive nominee Democrats could field in a race their candidate is almost certain to win: Liberals haven’t forgotten, for instance, that he backed the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction framework, which would have cut Social Security benefits. Edwards, by contrast, supports Sen. Warren’s proposal to expand the program. The congresswoman has also staked out more civil libertarian positions than Van Hollen; whereas she supported the Amash-Conyers amendment to overhaul the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices, Van Hollen voted against it.

While the Edwards-Van Hollen contest sets up a potentially epic clash, former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold is unlikely to face any serious Democratic challengers as he vies to reclaim his old job next year. Feingold recently stepped down from his role as an African envoy for the State Department, stoking speculation that he’ll seek a rematch with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), the man who ousted him in the 2010 Tea Party wave election. The former senator has done nothing to discourage such speculation, pointedly referring to his “once, current, and I hope future chief of staff” in his final State Department speech and planning a “listening tour” of his state.

Feingold’s return would mark a particularly sweet victory for progressives, whose 2010 defeat ranked among the most devastating blows for Democratic liberals. (Continued)

Continue reading 2016’s Untold Story: How The Election Could Bring A New Wave Of Progressive Warriors

Trade Unions Condemn US Sanction of Venezuela

Venezuela: ITUC Criticises US “National Security” Decision

The ITUC has strongly criticised a US decision to declare Venezuela a “risk to national security and foreign policy”, as diplomatic relations between the two countries deteriorate further.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “The US faces real threats to national security on many fronts and from within many countries, but there’s no evidence that Venezuela is one of them. Allegations of human rights abuses and corruption made by the US against seven Venezuelan officials should be dealt with according to the rule of law, and not trial by media. We urge both the US and Venezuela to accept the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights which was established for just this kind of situation. They should also respect the role of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.”

UNASUR, the regional government grouping, has been trying to re-start dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition, with allegations of opposition efforts to mount a coup and counter-criticism of the government’s crackdown on the opposition dominating Venezuelan politics in recent months.

During a visit to Caracas last week, UNASUR Secretary General Ernesto Samper was reported as saying “With the evidence of U.S. meddling presented us by President Maduro, we want to emphasize that all UNASUR nations, without exception, reject any attempts, either internal or from abroad, to destabilize Venezuela’s democracy. With the upcoming parliamentary elections in Venezuela, we believe it is the best scenario for both political forces to express their political differences and sort out the controversies.”

Victor Baez, General Secretary of the ITUC Regional Organisation for the Americas, TUCA, said, “Sanctions from outside will not solve the internal problem in the country and will contribute to worsening it. The way out of the problem will be through dialogue and respect of the democratically elected authorities.”

http://www.ituc-csi.org/

47 Republican Senators Violate Logan Act

ztvxxvWE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

File charges against the 47 U.S. Senators in violation of The Logan Act in attempting to undermine a nuclear agreement.

On March 9th, 2015, forty-seven United States Senators committed a treasonous offense when they decided to violate the Logan Act, a 1799 law which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.

At a time when the United States government is attempting to reach a potential nuclear agreement with the Iranian government, 47 Senators saw fit to instead issue a condescending letter to the Iranian government stating that any agreement brokered by our President would not be upheld once the president leaves office.

This is a clear violation of federal law. In attempting to undermine our own nation, these 47 senators have committed treason.

Sign here.

Joe BidenWASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden is furious.

Biden, who also serves as president of the Senate, Monday night blasted Senate Republicans in a long, angry statement for their letter to Iran’s leaders, which he described as “beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.”

Forty-seven Republicans on Sunday wrote directly to Tehran to suggest that any nuclear deal with the Obama administration would not be constitutionally binding because a future president or Congress could take steps to revoke it. Biden called the move an unprecedented affront “designed to undercut a sitting president.”

“In thirty-six years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country — much less a longtime foreign adversary — that the President does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them. This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments — a message that is as false as it is dangerous,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

“The decision to undercut our President and circumvent our constitutional system offends me as a matter of principle. As a matter of policy, the letter and its authors have also offered no viable alternative to the diplomatic resolution with Iran that their letter seeks to undermine,” he added.

The kind of executive agreements to which Biden refers are a consistent feature of U.S. foreign policy important for purposes like basing U.S. troops abroad, protecting those soldiers from prosecution in foreign countries and enabling intelligence and defense cooperation with other governments. They have historically been upheld by U.S. courts.

Biden, a longtime senator and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also criticized the author of the letter, freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), for willfully sabotaging the negotiations. Cotton admitted as much at a conservative conference in January.

“If talks collapse because of Congressional intervention, the United States will be blamed, leaving us with the worst of all worlds,” Biden argued. “Iran’s nuclear program, currently frozen, would race forward again. We would lack the international unity necessary just to enforce existing sanctions, let alone put in place new ones. Without diplomacy or increased pressure, the need to resort to military force becomes much more likely — at a time when our forces are already engaged in the fight against ISIL.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif dismissed the letter as a “propaganda ploy” on Monday. “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement ‘with the stroke of a pen’ … it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law,” he said in a statement.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/09/joe-biden-iran-letter-republicans_n_6836146.html

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