The President’s 2015 budget proposal “pivots” away from the 2010 “pivot” to austerity, pushes modestly for jobs and prioritizes infrastructure repair. Republicans will obstruct this – just like they have obstructed every jobs plan since the stimulus. But the public fully supports what the President is trying to do.
Away From Austerity
This budget finally moves us away from the constant job-killing and economy-cutting “austerity” idea that taking money out of the economy will grow the economy. It proposes a whopping (that’s a joke, son) $56 billion in new spending, split between military and actual job-boosting programs.
This Huffington Post headline summarizes the President’s new budget: “Obama Sends Congress $3.9 Trillion Budget Focused On Economy, Job Creation“. Other headlines tell a similar story:
- Richard Eskow: “The Next Obama Budget, Part 2: Is the “Era of Austerity” Really Over?”
- The Washington Post: “With 2015 budget request, Obama will call for an end to era of austerity”
- Center for American Progress: “President Obama’s Budget Resets the Fiscal Debate.”
“Stimulus” In President Obama’s Budget
In summary the budget proposal contains the following proposals that will help boost jobs:
- $56 billion in new, added spending. This is above the discretionary spending cap that is in place for next year. This is split between added military spending and added funding for basic research, elementary education, manufacturing initiatives, jobs training, climate change preparation and restoring cuts to the Internal Revenue Service.
- $302 billion in infrastructure spending over four years to maintain our highways, rail projects and mass transit (prioritizing those most in need of repair). This is a request for reauthorization of existing (underfunded) transportation programs. Note that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) “Infrastructure Report Card” says we need to spend $3.6 trillion on infrastructure by 2020 just to get things to where they should be.
- A series of tax breaks for lower-income workers, such as an expansion of the earned-income tax credit (EITC) by adding 5.8 million people and increasing it for 7.7 million people who currently qualify.
The budget proposal says these are “paid for” by closing tax loopholes on corporations and wealthy individuals. This includes proposals to reign in the way companies are moving jobs, factories, production and profit centers out of the country to take advantage of the “deferral” loophole that lets them avoid paying their taxes until profits are “repatriated.”
Again and again President Obama has proposed similar programs to help the economy and create jobs. Again and again these proposals have been obstructed by Republican filibusters in the Senate and/or Republican House refusing to allow members to vote.
Look at what happened to previous job and infrastructure proposals (note this is just a sample):
- Oct, 2011, PBS: Senate Blocks State Aid for Teachers, First Responders — “blocks” means Republicans filibustered it.
- Nov, 2011, Washington Post: Senate blocks $60 billion infrastructure plan, another part of Obama jobs bill — Note – the Senate didn’t “block” it, it was filibustered by Republicans.
- Nov, 2011, Washington Times: Third Obama jobs bill blocked in Senate
- March, 2012, LA Times: Senate Republicans block advancement of transportation bill
- June, 2012, Think Progress: With Deadline Approaching, House GOP Still Holding 1.9 Million Transportation Jobs Hostage
- July, 2012, CNN: GOP senators block top Obama jobs initiative – “…refusing to allow a vote on a bill that would give tax breaks for companies that “insource” jobs to the U.S. from overseas while eliminating tax deductions for companies that move jobs abroad.”
- July, 2012, The Hill: Senate fails to end debate on small-business bill – “fails to end debate” means “Republican filibuster.” This bill would give small businesses a tax credit if their 2012 payrolls were higher than their 2011 payrolls.
- Sept, 2012, NY Times: Veterans’ Jobs Bill Blocked in the Senate
- Sept, 2012, Think Progress: Unhappy Anniversary: Republicans Have Blocked The American Jobs Act For One Year
- March, 2013, Obama calls on lawmakers to approve $21 billion infrastructure bill
- July, 2013, Rep. Frederica Wilson at HuffPo: The American Jobs Act Still Deserves a Vote, “Congressional leaders allowed the bill to expire at the end of the year without bringing it to the floor for a vote.”
- Aug, 2013, ABC: Senate Blocks $54 Billion Transportation, Housing Bill – I’m getting tired of pointing out that “Senate blocked” means that a Republican minority filibustered a bill that the Senate majority would have passed…
And on and on…
What The Public Wants
Poll after poll shows that public is solidly behind the President, except wanting more government help to boost the economy and less focus on “deficit reduction.”
Here are a few examples, which you can find at the website Populist Majority:
- Alliance for American Manufacturing/The Mellman Group (01/09/2014): 71% support increasing government investment to build and repair roads, bridges, high-speed rail, smart electric grid technology and other infrastructure needs. 65% say job creation should be a top priority, not deficit reduction. 82% support federal and state worker training programs.
- Gallup (02/09/2014): 23% say the most important problem facing the country is jobs and unemployment. The economy ranks No. 2, with 20% saying it’s the biggest problem. Only 8% say the federal deficit.
- Americans for Tax Fairness/Hart Research (10/30/2013): Nine out of 10 believe that any revenue generated by closing corporate loopholes or limiting tax deductions for the wealthy should be used for public investment and deficit reduction (82%), not to lower tax rates on corporations or the wealthy (9).
- Washington Post-Miller Center (09/12/2013): 58% believe government investment in roads, water systems, the energy grid and other services is most/very important to help America compete with other countries economically.
- Bloomberg News/Selzer & Co. (02/18/2013): 49% prefer proposals to invest in infrastructure, education and alternative energy to create jobs, compared to 44% who believe tax cuts will generate business.
These are just a few of the polls you can find at PopulistMajority.org.
The National Priorities Project (NPP) issued a statement on the President’s budget:
“The new budget contains initiatives that would be widely popular with the American people based on opinion polling. With an emphasis on job training and job creation, new funding for education, and a reduction in corporate tax loopholes, the president has released a budget that reflects many of the people’s priorities.”
Here is a simple economic truth: Austerity – cuts that take money out of the economy – generally hurts economies and has held our economy back, government spending generally helps economies (and is what Reagan and Bush used to fight downturns).
Here is another simple economic truth: Our enormous, humongous trade deficit hurts our economy, our budget deficit doesn’t. (Click that link!) Why isn’t Washington talking about that? (Disclaimer: huge, bloated, astronomical military spending hurts economies. Budget deficits should be brought into line during economic good times.)
The following chart is from the post, “It’s the Fifth Anniversary Of The Stimulus. See What It Did“:
P.S. Please visit Populist Majority, “Exposing the gulf between American opinion and conventional wisdom.”