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A better way forward for the federal government

May 30, 2017


At this point, anyone who pays attention to current affairs in even a cursory manner will be aware that President Donald Trump’s proposal for the next federal budget is a savage attack on working families — and a slap across the collective face of the working people who voted for him.

Appropriations for Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Meals on Wheels, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Public Service (student) Loan Forgiveness program are to be slashed — with funding for programs like Child Care Access Means Parents in School, the Legal Services Corporation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the National Endowment for the Arts to be wiped out entirely.

But fear not because Trump offsets domestic immiseration with major increases to the military and law enforcement budgets. Which translates to more dead peasants globally, more dead immigrants at our borders, and more dead black kids at home. Making America great. According to the administration anyway.

No real surprise to anyone who was paying attention to the company Trump was keeping (defense contractors and theocrats and charter school flacks, oh my) during his campaign. Even as he mouthed populist rhetoric that convinced enough white working and middle class voters in swing states to back him that his victory in the Electoral College was assured.

So what’s the alternative? At the moment, the People’s Budget: A Roadmap for the Resistance FY 2018 proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus does a reasonable job of pointing to a more positive future for the nation. It hasn’t gotten much coverage, unsurprisingly, but it’s definitely worth a look. Bullet points from the CPC website follow.

Massachusetts Reps. Jim McGovern (D), Mike Capuano (D), and Katherine Clark (D) have all sponsored the forward-thinking budget. Plus a raft of left-leaning Democratic groups and organizations to their left are supporting it. The proposal is obviously a long shot, but you can’t have a successful movement for change without some aspirational campaigns like this one. For more information, and to plug into local activism for the passage of the People’s Budget, check out mass-peoples-budget.orgReaders seeing this column online on Tuesday 5.30.17 can take immediate action at the March Against President Trump’s Budget Plan, tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11:30 am at the Tip O’Neill Federal Building on Causeway Street in Boston.

Invest In America

  • Invests $2 trillion to transition to a 21st Century infrastructure to transform our energy, water and transportation systems
  • Closes loopholes so our government agencies use materials made in America
  • Expands our commitment to efficient renewable energy and green jobs
  • Invest $100 billion to increase access to reliable, high-speed internet

Affordable Health Care

  • Maintains critical coverage gains under Affordable Care Act
  • Lowers costs of prescription drugs
  • Allows states to transition to single-payer health care systems
  • Expands access to mental health care and treatments for opioid and heroin addiction
  • Repeals excise tax on high-priced healthcare plans for workers and replaces with public option

Fair Tax System for Working Families

  • Ends corporate tax break for offshoring American jobs and profits
  • Stops companies from renouncing their American citizenship to dodge U.S. taxes
  • Closes wasteful corporate tax loopholes that cost billions of dollars
  • Taxes Wall Street to fund Main Street
  • Ensures profits from investments are finally taxed at the same rate as income taxes
  • Raises revenue from the wealthiest few who can afford to pay more
  • Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Care Credit

Justice and Fair Elections

  • Ensures the justice system is fair and effective for all Americans by increasing funding for voter protection and legal assistance programs
  • Rebuilds trust in the justice system by developing community oriented policing reforms
  • Protects American election systems from any interference and increases protections for voting rights by strengthening key election reforms
  • Funds public financing of campaigns to curb special interest influence in politics
  • Supports policies and initiatives to significantly reduce gun violence

Educational Opportunities for Every Student

  • Delivers on the promise of lifting working families up by investing $1 trillion in effective early learning opportunities and for a child care for all program
  • Makes debt free college a reality for all students
  • Greater investments in K-12 education
  • Increases computer science opportunities for all students
  • Allows refinancing of student loans
  • Fully funds IDEA and provides Pre-K for all

Pathways Out of Poverty and Empowering the Middle Class

  • Supports a minimum wage increase and collective bargaining rights
  • Provides a plan to reduce poverty by half in ten years
  • Increases discretionary funding to invest in women, communities of color and their families
  • Provides an increase in Trade Adjustment Assistance for workers
  • Strengthens the Small Business Administration’s ability to provide support to America’s small business owners
  • Addresses the pay equity gap

Comprehensive and Just Immigration Reform

  • Implements comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship
  • Prohibits funding for construction of any border wall and any immigration policies which seek to ban people from entering the U.S. because of their religion
  • Supports continued funding to sanctuary cities

Access to Housing

  • Fully funds programs to make housing affordable and accessible for all Americans
  • Invests $12.8 billion to end family homelessness

Protecting our Environment

  • Closes tax loopholes and ends subsidies provided to oil, gas and coal companies
  • Identifies a price on corporate carbon pollution
  • Invests in clean, renewable, and efficient energy and green manufacturing

Protecting Our Veterans

  • Eliminates veterans’ homelessness
  • Increases access to mental health care for all veteran and service members
  • Invests in job training opportunities for transitioning service members and veterans

Sustainable Defense: Promoting Peace And Security

  • Modernizes our defense system to create sustainable baseline defense spending
  • Ends emergency funding for Overseas Contingency Operations
  • Increases funding for diplomacy and strategic humanitarian aid
  • Adds robust funding for refugee resettlement programs

Apparent Horizon is syndicated by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Jason Pramas is BINJ’s network director and senior editor of DigBoston.

Copyright 2017 Jason Pramas. Licensed for use by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and media outlets in its network.

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