After 20 nationally televised, occasionally entertaining, sometimes appalling debates, our presidential candidates this cycle have discussed a number of important issues: immigration policy, gun safety, health care, taxes, U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and the mounting crisis of student debt, just to name a few.
The debates have exposed many attacks on the federal government. But in the midst of all the shouting, the candidates' vision of what the federal role should be is not always clear. For that vision, I recommend the "The People's Budget", developed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Americans are clamoring for more opportunities to get decent jobs, and to stop the ways the deck is stacked against the average worker. "The People's Budget" shows a pathway to accomplish this - creating 3.6 million jobs, making investments in education, infrastructure, clean and renewable energy and green manufacturing, and paying for it responsibly by raising revenues from undertaxed corporations and the wealthy and by cutting wasteful Pentagon spending.
"The People's Budget" recognizes that we cannot leave 46 million people in poverty and expect to make the economic gains that all of us want. For a family of four, that's living on less than $24,300. Almost one in every seven people in this country is poor.
Poverty rates among Latinos are worse, and worse still among African Americans, where one in three people falls below the poverty line. While unemployment overall hovers at or below 5 percent - below the historic average - the jobless rate among young minorities, especially African Americans, exceeds 25 percent.
Progressives in Congress propose reducing poverty by 50 percent. They would accomplish this in myriad ways: creating jobs, increasing wages, restoring the safety net (for example, counteracting recent debilitating cuts to SNAP/food stamps), increasing paid leave and child care, and enhancing equal education opportunity - for example, by providing Head Start for every child in need and by providing debt-free college to every student.
As much as I like these proposals and the other anti-poverty initiatives the caucus puts forth, there is something even better about "The People's Budget" even more: It connects the dots. Here's what I mean.
A progressive budget raises revenue responsibly and efficiently. This budget does that by ensuring that profits from investments are taxed at the same rate as income from work and by closing corporate tax loopholes, among other things.
A progressive budget cuts down on waste. This budget does that by auditing the Pentagon (which, incredibly, has never happened before) and by cutting wasteful military spending.
A progressive budget lifts all boats by planning for our future. This budget does that by committing $1 trillion to fixing and strengthening our roads, bridges, railways and other facilities. It also invests in education, so our labor force can compete worldwide in productive innovation. By funding child care and health services, it helps create more caregiver jobs while investing in children and in a healthy population. These investments create good-paying American jobs that can't be sent overseas - you can't repair an American bridge or care for an American baby in India.
"The People's Budget" provides enhanced funding for anti-poverty programs. Beyond that, it raises sufficient revenue so that we can afford to pay for the things we need. It reduces waste, especially in the Pentagon. And it fixes America's infrastructure - and creates millions of jobs along the way.
For those who say we cannot afford to invest to make our economy work for everyone, "The People's Budget" shows that it can be done responsibly, while reducing the deficit. The Coalition on Human Needs is proud to endorse "The People's Budget".