New Budget Blueprint a ‘Voice of Reason,’ Says Trumka

A new budget “blueprint” that makes job creation and long-term investments the cornerstones for a sustainable federal budget is a “starting point for the debate over budgeting for broadly shared prosperity,” says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. The proposal is a:

voice of reason and sanity in a budget debate that has become increasingly unhinged from reality. It’s a surreal debate in which people who claim to be deficit hawks hypocritically clamor to bust the budget by showering the richest Americans with over $700 billion in wasteful tax cuts, while starving the economic growth essential to budget vitality.

The proposal, “Investing in America’s Economy: A Budget Blueprint for Economic Recovery and Fiscal Responsibility,” was developed by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), The Century Foundation and Demos. It was released today.

EPI research and policy director John Irons told a tele-press conference this afternoon that the plan puts “jobs and economic growth as the Number One priority” and provides:

substantial and sustained increased funding for job creation…[and] solid footing for Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid in long term….Failing to invest adequately is not fiscally responsible.

The federal deficit commission is set to release its final report Wednesday. A preliminary report by the commission’s two co-chairs called for deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare and could cost the economy more than 4 million jobs. Click here and here for more.

The “Investing in America’s Economy” executive summary says the nation’s first priority “is to secure the fundamentals of the economy: strong growth and good jobs.”

In order to reduce our long-term national debt we must refuel the engine of our economy: the middle class. We strongly oppose the idea that America’s fiscal challenges should be solved by cutting longstanding social insurance programs that have brought security and prosperity to millions of Americans.

Trumka says the blueprint “begins where any serious proposal must begin”:

by repealing the Bush tax cuts for the rich and by rejecting Wall Street’s plan to attack Social Security and Medicare.

The proposal recommends increased public investments in the first 10 years for economic and job creation boosters. One example is transportation infrastructure investment, which, says Tamara Draut, vice president of policy and programs at Demos, returns $2.50 to the economy for every $1 spent. The blueprint also calls for investments in early childhood care, health care technology, broadband expansion and fundamental research and development.

The blueprint would significantly reduce projected debt levels. According to the executive summary:

Indeed, the blueprint meets our stated goals of stabilizing the debt while creating jobs and maintaining national investments. It does so mainly by targeting those in society with the highest incomes for revenue increases, and it avoids cost shifting and “band-aid” solutions….Revenue increases should come primarily from those who have benefited most from the economic gains of the last few decades.

Trumka says, “People may or may not agree with every specific detail of the plan, and the AFL-CIO certainly does not”:

But we should all be able to agree on the core principles underlying this blueprint: We need to put jobs and economic growth first; we must make significant investments in education and infrastructure to be competitive in the 21st century; Wall Street and the wealthy must bear their share of the burden; and we need to deal with the growth of health care costs.

Click here for the full plan.

This article by Mike Hall is reprinted from the AFL-CIO News Blog