Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Budget for All Gets Attention from None

Even though deficit weasel Paul Ryan has been exposed as a serial charlatan, he is still being taken seriously by the punditocracy. David Brooks, for example, sneakily incorporates some of Ryan's ideas for the gentle genocide of the lesser people his column today. Predictions of the Ryan Budget's imminent demise have proven false. His Ayn Randian plan of annihilation may pass the House despite its chicanery. Numbers not adding up don't matter. Only ideology matters, and that ideology is for the rich to get richer and the poor to just die already. 


You'd think there would be an alternative to Ryanism and austerity -- and, as it turns out, there is! But you wouldn't know it from reading/watching the mainstream media. The "Budget for All" has just been introduced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), and I can count on the fingers of one hand how many articles have been written about it. (on my left hand, because they're all from lefty blogs, of course). The New York Times, with the exception of Paul Krugman, has always faithfully ignored all things CPC.  According to my Google search, the only print outlet to cover it has been the San Jose Mercury News . And that is only because local Congressman Mike Honda happens to be the author of the CPC budget proposal. Said Honda to his hometown paper: 
"Ryan's bill sort of grips everybody around the neck -- he's going for the jugular," Honda said. "Only the upper 1 or 2 percent and oil companies, those who've enjoyed the benefits of Republican leadership, will continue to do so. "We, on the other hand, are trying to keep our finger on the pulse."
You can read the progressive budget proposal in its entirety here. Meanwhile, the CPC has released a summary:

Our Budget Puts Americans Back to Work
Our budget attacks America’s persistently high unemployment levels with more than $2.4 trillion in job-creating investments. This plan utilizes every tool at the government’s disposal to get our economy moving again, including:
• Direct hire programs that create a School Improvement Corps, a Park Improvement Corps, and a Student Jobs Corps, among others.
• Targeted tax incentives that spur clean energy, manufacturing, and cutting-edge technological investments in the private sector.
• Widespread domestic investments including an infrastructure bank, a $556 billion surface transportation bill, and approximately $1.7 trillion in widespread domestic investment.

Our Budget Exhibits Fiscal Discipline
• Unlike the Republican budget, the Budget for All substantially reduces the deficit, and does so in a way that does not devastate what Americans want preserved.
• We achieve these notable benchmarks by focusing on the true drivers of our deficit – unsustainable tax policies, the wars overseas, and policies that helped cause the recent recession – rather than putting the middle class’s social safety net on the chopping block.

Our Budget Creates a Fairer America
• Ends tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans on schedule at year’s end
• Extends tax relief for middle class households and the vast majority of Americans
• Creates new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, in line with the Buffett Rule principle
• Eliminates the tax code’s preferential treatment of capital gains and dividends
• Abolishes corporate welfare for oil, gas, and coal companies
• Eliminates loopholes that allow businesses to dodge their true tax liability
• Creates a publicly funded federal election system that gets corporate money out of politics for good

Our Budget Brings Our Troops Home
• Responsibly and expeditiously ends our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving America more secure at home and abroad
• Adapts our military to address 21st century threats; through modernization, the Department of Defense will spend less and stop contributing to our deficit problems

Protects American Families
• Provides a Making Work Pay tax credit for families struggling with high gas and food cost 2013-2015
• Extends Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Credit
• Invests in programs to stave off further foreclosures to keep families in their homes
• Invests in our children’s education by increasing Education, Training, and Social Services

Pretty radical, huh? Not particularly -- this budget from the "progressive" caucus might have been put forth by moderate Republicans back in the day.  And it actually contains some neoliberal stuff that makes me cringe -- for example, that vague line about "adapting our military to address 21st century threats" sounds suspiciously like a tacit approval of the Obama Doctrine: over the horizon drone strikes and targeted assassinations which are not only fiscally responsible -- they're kept secret. 

So, when do you think the White House will be giving this proposal so much as a glance or a mention? Don't hold your breath.

You see, Paul Ryan and his draconian budget are useful idiots. His Road to Doom is so extreme that it gives the Conserva-Dems the cover they need to negotiate from the right themselves and thus continue to serve their real masters without us noticing. Ryan goes for the quick kill by handing old people a check for a few grand and instructing them to shop around for crappy health insurance. The Democrats will more gradually cull older people from the population by raising the Medicare age to 67 and adjusting Social Security cost of living increases and reducing home heating assistance.

The Beltway Bozos, if they even bothered to read the CPC proposals, might notice that it balances the budget more quickly than Paul Ryan's plan (assuming that Ryan's plan is based on facts, which it isn't). The trouble is, the progressive method of balancing the budget involves stopping wars, reining in Wall Street to some extent and protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And since those ideas are just not in the best interests of the One Percent, neither can they provide any benefit to the political puppets in either faction of the Money Party and their corporate-sponsored media stooges. 


Charles D said...

It's no wonder the CPC gets no respect from the media. As you note, they aren't really progressive, they are Democrats with a progressive streak. When it comes down to the wire, almost all of them sell out progressive principles in the name of party loyalty.

Even if they were true progressives and stuck to their guns to the bitter end, they represent a minority of Democrats and will never get a Republican vote without selling out, so are effectively impotent politically.

Zee said...

Even when looking at the "details," The "Budget for All" tells me little about how I--and Mrs. Zee--will be treated by Uncle Sugar as very healthy 61+year olds, or as we age.

The one thing that I can assure you of is that we are not prepared to be "culled" for the good of the nation when it is "deemed" that our time has come.

WE will make that decision insofar as our finances, our current quality of life, and available health care services--both domestic and abroad--will allow.

If you have some additional insights that will set my mind at rest, please let me know.

Jay - Ottawa said...

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is fake and marches under a false flag. It and its position papers look good (i.e., progressive) only when placed beside Ryan The Destroyer and his Rand-y proposals.

The CPC represents the “Left,” populism, a fighting labor movement, historic progressivism or the 99% about as dimly as the moon or, better yet, Uranus reflects the sun.

The CPC is talking -- merely talking -- about clawing back the bare essentials from what’s left after thirty years of Reaganism from the legacies of Robert LaFollette on the state level and Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson on the national level. The CPC never throws down the gaunlet, never breaks ranks, does not give rise to resignations, does not flock to Bernie Sanders’ progressive brand of “socialism,” does not spawn real leaders and will never, ever call out Obama for what he is: their archenemy and the end of progressivism.

For Yellow Dog Democrats the CPC is the faintest whiff of the old party that holds them on the path. The CPC is the weak conscience of a toothless and fallen Democratic Party. As part of that same Democratic Party the CPC serves as the Smiley Face of the Money Party, superficially split between Dems and Reps but deeply united in obeisance to the 1%.

The CPC, with its serial policy feints raises false hope and helps tamp down talk of turning to a Third Party. Only a Third Party, not a few nice guys trudging along in the Democratic Party, must carry the banner of Progressivism, if Progressivism is to survive at all.

For a serious review covering the spectrum of American political opinion, whether or not elements of it are allowed a paragraph or a minute in the MSM, I heartily recommend the following article. It is another position paper, written by “the socialist alternative.” one of the handful of splinter-group socialisms having about as much effect as the CPC but making a lot more sense and less inclined to look left while running right with the same old pack.


Denis Neville said...

As Dean Baker said: “Paul Ryan did a great public service when he released his budget last week. By throwing a piece of total garbage on the table and pretending it is a real budget plan, he allowed us to see who in Washington is serious about the budget and who just says things that will push their agenda.”

In contrast, the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ People’s Budget proposal offers a credible, deficit-reducing alternative according to Economic Policy Institute.

The Economic Policy Institute has analyzed and scored the specific policy proposals in the People’s Budget and modeled their cumulative impact on the federal budget over the next decade. Read: “The People’s Budget - A technical analysis” @


“As emphasized in Investing in America’s Economy, a proposal by the Economic Policy Institute, Demos, and The Century Foundation, national budget policy should adequately fund up-front job creation, invest in long-term economic growth, reform the tax code, and put the debt on a sustainable path while protecting the economic security of low-income Americans and growing the middle class. The proposal by the Congressional Progressive caucus achieves all of these goals.”


James F Traynor said...


I, an embarrassingly healthy and fit 80, plan on doing a little culling myself, should the time come (and I hope it doesn't). I will not go quietly into the night. And I'll be very selective in that cull. The tactics of Michael Collins have always impressed me. As have the writing and experiences of Bernard Fall.

Jay - Ottawa said...

The CPC's latest paper is either a subtle provocation or, more likely, yet another dead end diversion. At what point will exasperation kick in across the Great Republic?

Such a wonderful plan, the CPC's "Budget for All," so balanced, so fair. Graduate students in political science and economics have come up with model plans like this in every seminar of every semester ever since John Harvard bequeathed his library to the Bay Colony's "New College." You can find those plans piling up among theses and dissertations in every academic library across America. The CPC's "Budget for All" we applaud today is headed for those same dusty shelves tomorrow.

The problem is not a paucity of plans on paper, it's the implementation of a fair one on the ground. Soon. The word 'bread' is not bread, nor will the 'All' the CPC alludes ever derive a crumb from the CPC's latest budget proposal. Just hot air.

It's acceptable for grad students to come up with ideas only. Legislators are held to a higher standard. We expect them to get things done with the enormous amounts of tax money and power we pass on to them -- and not for the 1% alone.

The CPC will not go to the mat with Obama on this issue. They never have. Applaud their plan all you want. Then what? They are all lip and no muscle.

The Obama Administration can blithely ignore the "Budget for All" and suffer no fuss from within the ranks, not even from the 83 self-proclaimed "progressives." Awesome. That's where our attention and critique should should be focused -- on deeds, not another list of things the public yearns for.

Millions of Americans need jobs; the CPC gives them more talk about jobs. Millions of Americans need a place to live; the CPC gives them more talk about housing. America needs single payer health coverage; today the Administrations' lawyers are arguing before the Supreme Court for outstanding care for the giants of private health insurance. The majority of Americans have turned against the wars but they only hear of more talk about serious bites out of the Pentagon budget, eventually.

Millions of Americans, the CPC notwithstanding, continue to get screwed by both factions of the Money Party, of which the CPC is an essential, cooperating faction. What is its purpose other than providing ideological cover for Democrats who want it both ways, declaring progressive ideas while hardly ever tapping the brakes on the continued implementation of regressive policies.

I'll believe in the CPC when they put on the gloves and really duke it out for meaningful legislation, or when they pull out, singly or en masse, from their collaboration within the Money Party, or when they challenge O with a loud nominating fight at the Democratic National Convention on September 3.

When will Americans spot the con, no matter who's peddling the con? If you believe a position paper is as good as bread on the table or a job or a roof over your head, heaven help you. But it ain't necessarily so.

Will said...


Great posts about our false friends, the CPC. Will Americans EVER spot the con being pulled on them by both factions of the Money Party? It's not like it's particularly difficult to figure it out, you know? (For example, anyone with half a brain knew or should have known Obama was a wolf in sheep's clothing back in late 2010 when he extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich.)

It's all Kabuki Theater, the rich always win, we always get screwed, blah blah blah. Even our supposed heroes like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Dennis Kucinich and Alan Grayson and are in on it. They're allowed to play the juicy parts of the Truth Tellers. They talk a GREAT game, we get all excited, and then suddenly some pretend political obstacle conveniently gets in their way and we lose again. Pathetic.

I'll shut up now and just let the great Glenn Greenwald spell it out for anyone who wants to take a closer look at "The Democratic Party's deceitful game" in a post from way back in February 2010:


Valerie said...

You are so right, Karen. There is nothing radical or leftist about the budget proposal from the CPC. These are reasonable ideas that twenty years ago, the American public and their reps in Congress would readily accept as a viable economic strategy for moving America in the right (correct) direction. It is as if there is a mass hysteria that makes it impossible for most Americans to think rationally. I agree that Weasel Ryan is so far to the right that it gives corporate Democrats the cover they need to push through economic proposals that favour the ultra rich and steal a few more crumbs off the table of the vulnerable in our society – which is fast encompassing what used to be the Middle Class. What amazes me is that people don't seem to understand or even care that these cuts won't work towards balancing the budget. Where is the Republican claim that they are the party of fiscal responsibility?

It reminds me of when Bush finally admitted there had been no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It was our MAIN reason for war with Iraq and it didn’t seem to bother too many Americans that they had been duped or that the Republicans were changing horses mid-stream!

If the supposed reasons we need to cut back on the safety net is to get the deficit back under control, why aren’t Americans “screaming bloody murder” about this discrepancy in logic? I’ll tell you why, the mainstream media has once again proven it is a captured industry and it has fallen down on its job of informing the public on important issues of the day. Without blogs like Sardonicky, Truthdig and Naked Capitalism those of us who want to know what is going on in Washington would be without a source of truth.

Valerie said...


I think the problems you speak of with the CPC - which are all legitimate criticisms - all come down to money. If they REALLY take the gloves off and call it like it is and declare Obama is a sell-out, they will get no funding for their re-elections and it will be a Dennis Kucinich scenario, where they will be knocked out in the primary by a better funded Democrat. So the members of the CPC say the right things but aren't prepared to "go to the mat."

I think it says so much about the political situation in this country that those of us on the Left are just so happy any group, no matter how toothless, is even talking about the right things. I fear that in this decade, that even that small voice of reason and compassion will go silent unless the Occupy Movement gains considerable strength and volume.

Zee said...

@James F. Traynor--

Tell me more about Michael Collins and Bernard Fall beyond what I can learn scattershot from the web. Or, in the case of Collins, what I "know" from popular movies.

The former appears to have been a practitioner of guerrilla warfare and the latter a student--and victim--of it.

Jay - Ottawa said...

The link Will provided is instructive. In it Glenn Greenwald provides the standard plot outline for the Democratic Theatre of Make Believe, several passages of standard dialogue, and casting considerations whereby designated Congresspersons raise hope for months only to dash it (on the doorstep of victory) with time-tested, off-the-shelf excuses. Kabuki, indeed.