The Congressional Black Caucus released an alternative 2012 budget Thursday afternoon that it says would accelerate economic recovery without cutting Social Security, block-granting Medicaid, food assistance and other programs that many of their constituents rely on for survival.
The CBC has offered an alternative budget each year since 1981. Will it ever make it to President Obama’s desk? Not likely, but it is important for the group to identify its spending priorities and what members will fight for. This year House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked them to not offer a budget proposal so that the Democratic caucus could coalesce around one plan, which many members thought was ludicrous.
“We are under attack. And by ‘we’ I mean the African-American community, the Hispanic community, the American workforce, seniors, students, the middle class and those who strive to be the middle class,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who chairs the caucus. “Our nation’s most vulnerable communities are under attack and echoing Presidents Obama’s deficit reduction speech—not on our watch.”
The CBC plan proposes to raise revenue through a surcharge on top earners, closing certain corporate tax loopholes and preferences, eliminating mortgage-interest deductions for vacation homes and yachts and other measures. It also would invest an additional $20 billion in education and job training programs, $20 billion for transportation and infrastructure projects and $5 billion for healthcare services for veterans. The budget also calls for an additional 14 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits for people who’ve exhausted their benefits.
On Friday, the House plans to vote on the Republican budget proposal released last week. While CBC members were divided on whether to support the continuing measure Thursday, they will without a doubt vote in lockstep against the GOP proposal.
“Congressional budgets are a window into the moral compass of our conscience as a nation—and the compass is horribly off. Recklessly cutting vital programs like job training, education and health care to millions of hardworking American families is not a roadmap to balancing the budget—it is a road to nowhere,” Cleaver said.
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