This election year Americans are faced with a difficult decision on how to best move our country forward. Among the proposals to address our economic challenges and federal deficit is one filled with extreme, regressive and deeply cynical policy choices: that of congressman and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. The Republican ticket's plan is deeply flawed because it asks the most from the middle class, seniors, and our next generation all while asking nothing -- not one red cent -- from the wealthiest among us. I believe we can do better, not just for some Americans, but for all. The Congressional Progress Caucus' Budget For All offers concrete, reasonable and actionable alternatives to the Ryan Budget that will more effectively remedy our economic situation while protecting the country we believe in.
The Ryan Budget asserts that the key to economic growth is not by empowering and strengthening the middle class, but by keeping tax rates low for the wealthiest Americans, adhering to the "trickle down" theory of economics. His plan would cut funding for social programs across the board while instituting massive tax cuts for those at the very top, who will -- in theory -- create jobs for our nation's struggling economy. This essentially empowers a minority of rich Americans to be responsible for the future of the entire nation, with the hope that they will "pay it forward."
This wishful thinking hasn't come to fruition before, and it won't work now. Conversely, the CPC's Budget For All would achieve $6.8 trillion in deficit reduction and hit the same fiscal benchmarks as the GOP plan over the next decade while still securing the future for all Americans. This plan spurs innovation, creating thousands of jobs in America's fastest growing industry, clean energy. It also creates and saves jobs in the education, public safety and transportation and infrastructure industries, while still encouraging private sector innovation. It offers support to those with low income and little education, helping them to secure jobs and build a future, and rewards businesses who create jobs here at home instead of overseas.
A pivotal element of the Ryan Budget is reforming our Medicare system by ending the Medicare guarantee and turning it into a voucher-based system. This approach repeals historic patient protections, and would disastrously put health insurance companies back in the driver's seat. Patient care should be determined by the medical needs of an individual, not the profit margins of insurance companies. The CPC's Budget For All offers a better solution to rising health care costs by not only preserving Medicare, but strengthening the program and making it more efficient, while simultaneously improving on the Affordable Care Act with innovative cost-control measures and a public option.
The Ryan Budget poses a threat to our education system and the global competitiveness of future generations of Americans. As a cost-saving step, the Ryan Budget would gut Pell grants, reducing the financial assistance that millions of Americans depend on to help pay for higher education. In order for America to stay competitive in an increasingly globalized society, education must be seen as a necessity for all, not a luxury for some. Unfortunately, Paul Ryan's budget would make earning a college degree a far-flung dream for many Americans, stifling their chances of upward mobility and undermining their chance of achieving the American Dream.
America cannot afford Ryan's proposed $11 billion cuts to science, medical research and space and technology programs over the next two years. Such cuts would irreversibly weaken our ability to compete on a global stage and be leaders on the forefront of new research and technology, a cost that Americans truly cannot afford. The CPC's Budget For All addresses these concerns by investing in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in addition to increasing research funding for science, aeronautics and technology, and advanced manufacturing by $78.1 billion over the next ten years. The Budget For All also proposes historic investments in critical education programs such as Head Start, Title 1, Pell grants and STEM education in an effort to invest in our future generations and keep America competitive.
How do we save the American Dream? We do it by adopting a budget that moves us forward, rather than resorting to cynicism and fear. We must sustain and nourish the future we want to build. We must not adopt radically regressive economics that would push our economic recovery into a downward tail-spin.
At this vital point in our history, Paul Ryan's proposed budget offers no progress, protection or prosperity for Americans. It does not support the crucial social and educational programs that have come to define our great nation as a progressive world leader. It will not create the jobs Americans so desperately need. Indeed, the Ryan Budget would do irrefutable damage to our country's greatest legacies. There are better ways forward. The Budget For All makes the American Dream a reality again, igniting economic recovery, putting Americans back to work, achieving fiscal sustainability, strengthening valued social programs and allowing opportunity for upward mobility. These are the positive solutions that the Democratic Party believes in, and a vision the American people deserve.
Rep Michael Honda (CA-15) represents Silicon Valley and serves on the House Budget and Appropriations Committees. Follow Rep Honda on Twitter at @RepMikeHonda.
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