Wednesday, February 16

A Truly Progressive Budget, could save $3.2 Trillion

So the President has put out a Budget that cuts $1 Trillion over the next ten years, while the House GOP has proposed $63 Billion in cuts that Obama has already promised to Veto. But has every reasonable (not to mention unreasonable) idea been brought to the table?

Thinkprogress has Five Progressive Ideas that neither the GOP or the President has mentioned, maybe it's something the House Dems should be putting on table.

1. Rein In The Military Budget: Neither the president’s budget or the House CR cuts the overall level of defense spending. In fact, Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s request for the Pentagon budget is a whopping $553 billion — “the largest request ever” by the Pentagon and the largest adjusted for inflation since World War II. CAP Senior Fellow Lawrence Korb has laid out $1 trillion in defense reductions that can be made over the next 10 years by phasing out outdated programs and resizing our military. This comes out to roughly $100 billion a year, which is approximately how much funding is being proposed to be cut from the Pell Grant program.

2. Reduce Or Eliminate Subsidies To Big Agribusiness: The federal government “paid out a quarter of a trillion dollars in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009.” “Just ten percent of America’s largest and richest farms collect almost three-fourths” of these subsidies. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) has proposed — as a part of her progressive deficit reduction plan — a fifty percent cut in federal direct support for agriculture, which would save $7.5 billion in 2015.

3. Reduce Or Eliminate Wasteful Tax Expenditures: The CAP paper “Cracking the Code: A Closer Look at Tax Expenditure Spending” notes that “special credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, and preferential tax rates provide more than $1 trillion in subsidies intended to support public objectives,” yet are ineffective and should be reduced or eliminated. Eliminating this tax expenditure could save $100 billion, for example.

4. Enact A Financial Transactions Tax: A “0.25 percent tax on trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other Wall Street financial instruments” would do little to nothing to reduce commerce or productivity but would generate “between $50 billion and $150 billion annually,” according to a CAP analysis.

5. Empower Medicare To Negotiate For Lower Drug Prices: One of the main drivers of the growing U.S. budget deficit is health care costs. While there are a number of things that can be done to streamline the efficiency of our health care system, like introducing a public option or even moving towards a Medicare-for-all system, one policy option that would be very simple to enact and would not require any sort of increased spending or expansion of government would be to simply allow Medicare to use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate with drugmakers for lower prices. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) estimates that doing this could save as much as $156 billion over 10 years.

Taken all together these proposals could save as much as $3.2 Trillion over the next decade, far more than what has been proposed by either the President's Budget or the Republicans - without negatively impacting Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare and leaving plenty of room for infrastructure investment, green job growth and even retain significant middle-class and small business tax cuts.

Wouldn't you love to see a budget like this put forward by Democrats in the House and scored by CBO lined up side-by-side against the GOP or Presidents proposals?

How could either of them seriously argue they would prefer to go with the plans that Saves Less and Hurts More compared to a plan like this? Rather than sit on the sidelines, Progressives need to make sure their voice is heard and their priorities are on the table. You never know, just like with the Patriot Act Vote, we could pull more than a few surprise upsets as the GOP caucus splits, divides and separates into their far-right and super-far-right-libertarian flanks.


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