by Maya Rhodan
NNPA Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – The Congressional Black Caucus opposes a proposed House Republican budget for fiscal 2014 and instead offered an alternative budget that it said is faired to the voters the CBC represents.
Referring to the Republican plan CBC Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said in a statement, “It claims to put communities first. But instead prioritizes tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy over funding for the programs that many Americans rely on, such as Medicare and Medicaid, Pell grants, job training initiatives and much needed investments in transportation and infrastructure.”
Under the House Budget plan, the deficit would be reduced by $4.6 trillion over 10 years, with $1.8 trillion of the reduction coming from the repeal of President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.
The GOP budget also proposes reforming Medicaid and food stamp programs by shifting most of that care to the states. Even if it passes the Republican-dominated House, it is expected to stall in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The CBC’s alternative budget, subtitled “Pro Growth, Pro People, Pro America,” was submitted just days after the Republican– controlled House Budget Committee released their budget last week.
Not surprisingly, the GOP budget plan also falls in line with most Republicans pledging not raise taxes by calling for a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, as well as lowering the top income tax rate to 25 percent.
Instead of increasing revenue through taxes, the GOP budget proposal calls for a major reduction in federal funding to departments and projects they deem wasteful.
Taking the opposite approach, the CBC drafted a plan it says can too reduce the deficit without cutting funds to areas that will help reduce poverty and preserve jobs.
“We believe investing in education, saving the jobs of teachers and first responders, and rebuilding our neighborhoods while eliminating corporate tax loopholes and ensuring the wealthiest pay their fair share is the balanced way to put America back on the road to prosperity,” Rep. Fudge said.
In a telephone conversation Friday with the media, Fudge said. ““We do not believe Congress needs to sacrifice our communities in order to balance our budget.”
The CBC budget noted Congress and President Obama have already passed and signed into law $2.4 billion in deficit reduction for 2013-2022. It suggested that Congress only has to reduce the deficit by $1.6 billion keep with Obama’s goal of reducing the deficit by $4 billion in 10 years.
The Congressional Black Caucus’s budget tracks a Senate Democrats budget proposal since 2009 that proposes $1 trillion in tax revenue increases over the next 10 years through an “across the board limit on tax expenditures” claimed by the top 2 percent of earners.
Under the budget outline by the CBC, $4.2 trillion in revenue would be raised as a result of closing tax loopholes, ending corporate subsidies, and gutting preferential tax rates for the wealthy.
The budget also calls for the cancellation of the sequester which is set to cut spending across the board by $1.2 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office says the cuts will cost 750,000 jobs this year alone.
Other reports, including the one conducted by Stephen Fuller, an economist at George Mason University in Virginia, suggest the cuts could cost 2.14 million jobs and raise the unemployment rate by 1.5 percent over the next year.
Add that on top of the cuts to unemployment benefits (Blacks are unemployed at a rate of 13.8 percent); early childhood education programs, which benefit low-income students; and the overall impact on jobs in the public sector, of which Blacks comprise over 20 percent of the work force; and sequestration’s impact on African Americans is all the more real.
“Opposition to the sequester is nearly unanimous across the country, yet the Republican majority has refused to take sequestration off the table,” the CBC budget states. “Sequestration was delayed until March 1, 2013 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act, but it should be outright cancelled so that it does not continue to loom over our economy.”
The budget calls for $1 trillion worth of the revenue enhancements to go toward ending sequestration, and another trillion dollars to accelerate economic recovery through job creation, investment in the economy and social programs like Medicare.
“This budget presents a different point of view on how we maintain our fiscal responsibility, but also creates jobs and opportunity which is the first priority,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said on Friday’s call.
The most notable of the opportunity creation is what is known as the 10-20-30 policy for federal spending, which requires that “ at least 10 percent of federal funds in certain accounts be directed to certain areas that have had a poverty rate of 20 percent for the last 30 years.”
Like many of the other policies put forth in the budget, the 10-20-30 policy addresses the needs of the Congressional Black Caucus’ constituents, and puts the needs of the neediest Americans at the helm of policy.
The section of the budget that calls for the elimination of poverty is set to be included in the forthcoming Democratic strategy budget, given the reality that more than 46 million Americans currently live in poverty.
The budget also calls for significant investments in education, job training, transportation, infrastructure, and health care.
“This budget does exactly what American people want,” Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on the call. “We’re not just closing tax loopholes, but eliminating the policy elements that benefit certain groups.”