12/21/2012 04:28 pm ET Updated Feb 20, 2013

It's Time for a Plan "D"

After last night's Republican Plan "B" debacle and failure to find agreement within their own Caucus left them with no pathway forward, it is now time for all parties to unite around a new plan, a Plan "D" on the deficit deal.

"D" is for dream -- the American Dream. This budget deal comes at a time when it has never been more urgent to build ladders of opportunity and tear down barriers to the American Dream. To do so, we must immediately create new jobs by modernizing our crumbling infrastructure and providing a 21st century education for all our children, equipping them with tools to compete in a global marketplace. We can also invest in renewable and green energy technologies which will make us energy independent, rebuild America's manufacturing base and grow the economy into the future.

We can do all these things and prevent the fiscal burden from being shifted onto the backs of poor and working families or making unnecessary benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.

The poor and middle class have already borne a disproportionate share of the nation's economic pain. A fiscally responsible and balanced approach would be to immediately pass $1.5 trillion in new revenue to match the massive cuts to domestic programs we have already made, while preventing income taxes from rising on working and middle-class families.

"D" is for defense spending reform, which many outside experts from across the political spectrum agree can safely absorb much more substantial cuts than what was included in the latest budget negotiations. Respected policy organizations across the political spectrum have recently issued proposals that would responsibly achieve defense savings over the next decade. The Cato Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense, The Project on Government Oversight, the Project on Defense Alternatives and others have released plans to save up to an additional $550 billion without harming U.S. national security.

The Pentagon's budget has increased dramatically over the last decade, due in large part to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. With the draw-downs from two wars, now is the time to reevaluate our runaway Pentagon spending and prioritize our defense budget so that it better reflects our overall national security strategy.

"D" is for a deal that works for all. A deal in which we ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share so that we can invest in everyone else who are all integral to the successful functioning of the economy. For too long, Republicans have relied on excessive tax breaks for billionaires and corporations and cut the very programs that helped create a thriving middle class.

Our country can no longer afford more of the same failed Republican economic policies that are pushing millions of American families over a human cliff, not a fiscal one. By building from the ground up, we can build a strong foundation by lifting millions of Americans living in poverty into the middle class. If this Congress fails to act, millions of families will be cut off from vital programs like unemployment insurance, the child tax credit, and the earned income tax credit, which strengthen the economy for all Americans.

As we reunite with friends and family this holiday season, let us get past the partisan obstructionism that has kept us from moving our Nation forward so that everyone has the opportunity to climb, strive, and reap the rewards and security of the American Dream.