I had dinner with friends last night, and at some point during the evening a new acquaintance (of mine) asked if we had ever heard of the People's Budget, a liberal view of how government could manage itself more efficiently. Of course, living on Okinawa where most of the news funnels through the military and is dispensed by Fox as "fair and balanced," none of us had.
There are several proposed budgets floating around Washington, DC: Paul Ryan's draconian Republican Budget that wants to eliminate life as we know it for the elderly and the working poor, the Obama Budget which is less draconian but still far from visionary, and then there is the People's Budget that is being floated by the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives. (The Progressive Caucus with a membership of eighty is the largest single caucus in the House.)
The Republican budget wants the government to be funded by the poor and run for the benefit of the wealthy, the Obama budget stresses "shared sacrifice," whatever the hell that is, and the People's budget takes an entirely different approach by cutting real pork and placing the onus of paying for government on those who can best afford it. What a revolutionary concept!
There are two sides to a budget ledger, as any average sixth-grader knows: revenue (income) and spending. If a budget is to balance (which our country's seldom does), spending must not exceed revenue. Republicans hate paying taxes - out of some primal fear that if they let go of a dollar, some poor person may get it - so they look to balance the budget by cutting spending. The problem for them is that the only places they seem to be willing to cut are in social programs, and those, with the exceptions of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, are small potatoes in real money. Republicans will not cut where the big bucks are stacked - the Defense budget - because Defense contractors are some of the GOP's most dependable fatcat contributors.
Democrats rally to save the really popular social programs, like the three mentioned above, but they too are reticent to rein in Defense dollars for fear that the Republicans will try to show them as "weak on terrorism." (Remember when that was "soft on communism?" - same brush, different paint.)
Then on the revenue side of the equation, those most able to pay - big corporations and the uber-rich, are protected by the Republicans who prattle on endlessly about the importance of not raising taxes and the idea that if the rich have even more money they will invest it in the economy and more jobs will appear. That never happens, but still the trickle-down myth lives on.
The predictable end result is that social programs take an annual beating, the Defense Department stumbles along with more money than it knows how to spend, and every congressman and senator rushes to fund the special "bridge to nowhere" back home that will keep their constituents happy, the rich get richer - and the debt grows and grows and grows.
The People's Budget, however, takes a different approach. It raises taxes on the wealthiest Americans back to the levels they were paying when our economy was sound, and it starts pulling back the dollars that slide by the pallet-load down the Defense black hole. It keeps programs that are proven and necessary, cuts those that go on-and-on with no positive results, and allows the wealthy and corporations the honor of paying their fair share to the country that gave them the opportunity to amass that wealth.
To see the People's Budget in its entirety, please go here: http://grijalva.house.gov/uploads/The%20CPC%20FY2012%20Budget.pdf
To see my friends and I relaxing, please go here: http://okinawanodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/04/night-on-beach.html