Friday, May 12, 2017

The People's Budget - Parts 9, 10, 11, And 12

In opposition to the terrible budgets being proposed by Donald Trump and the congressional Republicans, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has proposed a budget of their own. They call it The People's Budget: A Roadmap For The Resistance. This week, I have brought you the first 8 parts of that budget. Today, I present the final four parts of the progressive budget -- parts nine, ten, eleven, and twelve.


While President Trump and Republicans in Congress continue to deny the reality of climate change, The People’s Budget takes necessary steps to protect current and future generations from the growing impact of more dangerous storms, community-devastating droughts, fires, and floods, rising sea levels, and increased deaths and illness due to stronger heat waves, poor air quality, and the enhanced spread of diseases. It is critical that the United States continue to implement and enforce the Clean Power Plan and maintain its leadership in the Paris Climate Accords achieved under President Obama. We also believe that now is the time for bold action to fight climate change and invest in a clean-energy economy that supports green jobs with good wages.

The American people can’t afford to continue providing massive tax breaks and subsidies to fossil fuel companies while they emit more climate-warming pollution. The People’s Budget requires polluters to pay for their impact on our health and the global climate while eliminating tax breaks that subsidize fossil fuel energy over cleaner energy. Our budget provides a national energy policy focused on renewables and energy efficiency. It also provides funding for communities to adapt to climate change and protects those most at risk from environmental degradation.

Bold Investment in Green Jobs $500 billion of The People’s Budget’s historic $2 trillion investment in infrastructure improvements will go towards transforming and greening our energy infrastructure, which will create 2.4 million high-wage jobs. This public investment will help improve energy-efficiency standards in federal buildings and double our nation’s output of clean, carbon-free energy. The People’s Budget will also create jobs through investments in a new 21st Century smart grid that can manage safer, decentralized energy creation and spur private sector investments in clean energy production. 

Impose a Price on Carbon Pollution The People’s Budget implements a $25 per ton price on carbon dioxide emitted by polluters (increasing at 5.6 percent a year) and rebates 25 percent of all revenues to protect low-income families from any rising energy costs via refundable credits. Revenue from this carbon price will be used to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency development and deployment. The Energy Information Administration found that a similar proposal would result in carbon emissions reductions of 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

This will go a long way toward setting the United States on a path to minimize the dangers of climate change, particularly when combined with air pollution control measures, increased energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment.

Eliminate Corporate Welfare for Oil, Gas, and Coal Companies The CPC Budget repeals approximately $135 billion in fossil fuel subsidies over 10 years. The fossil fuel industry enjoys dozens of permanent subsidies thanks to decades of successful lobbying. Just one of these loopholes, the “percentage depletion allowance,” will cost taxpayers $17 billion over the next decade. Researchers at the International Monetary Fund found that in 2015 fossil fuel subsidies (including both tax breaks and the cost of health and environmental externalities) cost $5.3 trillion or $10 million a minute.

Helping Communities Adapt The People’s Budget increases funding for EPA climate adaptation programs and FEMA climate resiliency initiatives. It also incorporates the job training and economic development funding outlined in former President Obama’s POWER plus plan to assist displaced fossil fuel workers and communities impacted by changing energy policies.

Reinstate Superfund Taxes Our budget reinstates the Superfund excise taxes that expired in 1995. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, once largely funded by dedicated taxes, is now funded primarily by general revenue. Having a stable source of funding, rather than relying on year-to-year appropriations, will provide $22 billion more for cleanup of hazardous and contaminated land, often located in disadvantaged communities.

Crop Insurance Subsidies — The CPC Budget reduces the federal government’s subsidy from 60 percent to 40 percent premiums, on average. Insurance policies purchased through the program are sold and serviced by private insurance companies, which are reimbursed by the federal government. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that crop insurance will cost taxpayers $88 billion over the course of a decade. 


The People’s Budget recognizes the tremendous sacrifices veterans have made on behalf of our country and upholds our commitment to ensuring veterans receive the pay and benefits they have earned. Guaranteeing veterans are able to access health care and job training services in a timely manner is imperative to transitioning back into civilian life. The CPC Budget also continues investments the previous Administration made to end veteran homelessness, a vital component to meeting our country’s promise to our veterans.

Advanced Funding for VA Health Programs The People’s Budget increases overall funding to meet levels recommended by the Independent Budget authored by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The People’s Budget provides stability to veterans through advanced funding for discretionary VA programs to make sure veterans receive their benefits and health care even when Congress cannot reach agreement on funding.

Eliminating Veterans Homelessness We provide significant investments to continue working towards ending veterans’ homelessness by expanding the HUD-VASH program and Supportive Services for Veterans Families. The CPC Budget supports the VA’s use of public- private partnerships to provide pro bono legal services to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness.

Increases Access to Mental Health Care for All Veterans and Service Members — America’s veterans deserve nothing less than timely, high quality health care. The People’s Budget fully funds efforts to ensure accessible delivery of appropriate, qualified health care by increasing the VA health care workforce, expanding veteran mental health care services, and intensifying VA suicide prevention services outreach. The budget provides increased funding for initiatives such as the Clay Hunt Veteran’s Suicide Prevent Act, reducing limits on inpatient access to psychiatric care and ensuring a greater number of our veterans can receive addiction treatment.

Eliminating the Claims Backlog The People’s Budget fully funds efforts to eliminate the disability claims backlog by implementing reforms, additional staffing, and IT system updates. With over 460,000 appeals for veterans’ disability benefits pending it is critical the VA make necessary changes to provide veterans timely and accurate decisions.

Invests in Job Training and Transition Programs for Service Members Returning to Civilian Life Our budget includes robust funding for the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Training (VET) program to provide support for Veteran-owned small businesses. As the veterans’ unemployment rate continues to decline The People’s Budget invests in the Departments of Labor and Veteran’s Affairs employment and retraining programs to give service members the ability to translate their military experience into civilian careers. This will also connect veterans to meaningful career opportunities by providing access to job training, recruitment, and other services. 

Cost of Living Increase for Veteran Retirees The People’s Budget uses the Experimental Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to calculate Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for federal retirement programs other than Social Security, which includes veterans’ pensions and compensations and military retirement. CPI-E is the most sensible and accurate measure of the real costs that seniors face in retirement. Current underpricing of costs amounts to cutting benefits for those on fixed incomes.

Rebuilding Veteran’s Health Facilities Across the country more than 1,800 Veterans Affairs facilities serve veterans who have put their lives on the line to defend our country. However, as we have too often seen in recent years, many of the facilities designed to serve them are in a state of disrepair it is estimated that the average age of Veterans Health Administration buildings is 52 years old. In comparison, the average age of a not-for-profit hospital is 10.5 years. The People’s Budget invests $30 billion to help fix those facilities most in need. 


Pentagon spending has doubled over the last decade at the expense of investments in working families. As President Trump expands the endless, unauthorized war against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the broader Middle East and advocates for an irresponsible $54 billion boost in spending to an already bloated Pentagon budget, the The People’s Budget continues to stand in stark contrast to these misguided efforts.

Instead, The People’s Budget prohibits any expansion of U.S. combat troops in Syria, prohibits an increase in defense spending and slashes wasteful Pentagon spending. We focus Pentagon spending on modern security threats instead of Cold War-era weapons systems. We also propose investments in a massive job-creation program that will help workers transition into civilian jobs. The People’s Budget also increases funding for diplomacy, sustainable development, and humanitarian assistance to address the ongoing crises in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and many other countries around the world. The Congressional Progressive Caucus does not support Pentagon cuts mandated by sequestration and believes there are more responsible savings achievable that will not harm service members and veterans. 

End Emergency War Funding Beginning in FY2018 Ends the Overseas
Contingency Operations (OCO) altogether and saves $852 billion compared to current law. We must end the policy of funding endless wars, especially as the Trump administration proposes to boost OCO spending by $30 billion. The use of emergency funding via the OCO account is a budget gimmick that masks the true impact of war spending and should be discontinued immediately.

Reduce Base Pentagon Spending The CPC Budget reduces baseline military spending in a responsible manner to ensure that we can make necessary investments in our communities while ensuring that our troops have the resources needed to address 21st Century threats. It would also repeal the damaging across-the-board cuts and caps proposed by the Budget Control Act, while providing significant savings through the enactment of reforms, endorsed in bipartisan fiscal reform proposals. The People’s Budget redirects funding to priorities such as caring for our veterans, Congressional Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), smart diplomacy, and environmental cleanup and climate change mitigation programs within the DOD Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan.

Adjusting to Pentagon Downsizing and Investing in Non-Defense Manufacturing — Our budget increases investments in DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment to assist state and local governments to respond to major defense program shifts by helping communities adjust to defense contract losses. Fully funding initiatives like the DOT’s Federal Ship Financing Program and significantly increasing federal agency procurement of sustainable technology from communities impacted by Pentagon cuts will help provide a just transition for defense manufacturing workers and ensure that the U.S. manufacturing base remains vibrant.

Modernizing our Defense Posture The CPC Budget achieves a smaller force structure through gradual attrition. A modern defense strategy must focus our armed forces on their strengths of crisis response, smart security, and deterrence. Our military needs to adapt to current threats and challenges, particularly cyberwarfare, nuclear proliferation, and unpredictable non-state actors. No savings are obtained by reducing military personnel wages or benefits, including TRICARE and pensions. The People’s Budget reins in excessive CEO pay for defense contractors, reduces the proportion of private contractor personnel by transitioning their work to civilian personnel, and curbs needless “outsourcing” that creates excessive cost overruns. Additional reforms include the decommissioning of our Cold War-era nuclear weapons infrastructure, as outlined by the Smarter Approach to Nuclear expenditures (SANE) Act, and reducing procurement and research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) spending by making smarter procurement choices.

Audit the Pentagon The People’s Budget would reign in the ongoing waste, fraud and
abuse at the Pentagon as outlined by the Audit the Pentagon Act. The Pentagon loses tens of billions of dollars annually as highlighted by several GAO reports and a 2015 study from the advisory Defense Business Board (DBB), which identified $125 billion worth of administrative waste. Auditing the Pentagon and encouraging the Department to implement remaining GAO recommendations would lead to billions in cost savings by bringing a culture of financial accountability to the Pentagon. It is past time to end the wasteful practices that divert resources from our service members and ultimately, weaken our national security. 

Diplomacy and Development The People’s Budget rejects the harmful cuts to the State Department and other critical humanitarian programs proposed by President Trump. Instead, our budget increases investment in diplomacy and development to stabilize key regions of the world through supporting the United States’ leadership in the United Nations, smart security, providing vital governance, development and humanitarian assistance, and increasing the tools to combat the devastating effects of famine in Yemen, South Sudan, and Nigeria, drug and human trafficking and nuclear proliferation. Our budget rebalances goals and risks to achieve a more effective mix of defense, diplomacy, and development aid. By adopting this new global security posture, investing in domestic priorities and creating a cost-effective military aligned with 21st century threats, the U.S. can establish a more sensible national security budget, while simultaneously enhancing global security. 


With the nation facing a looming retirement income crisis, expanding Social Security will help ensure that every American can retire with security and dignity. Right now, Social Security benefits average just around $16,080 a year for retired workers. The People’s Budget supports increasing Social Security’s modest benefits separate and apart from budget discussions, because Social Security does not add a penny to the deficit and, by law, is not to be counted as part of the federal budget.

Expanding Social Security to Reflect Rising Cost-of-Living for Seniors The CPC endorses expanding Social Security’s benefits and using an inflation measure that more accurately reflects the costs including rising health care costs experienced by seniors and people with disabilities. The People’s Budget supports phasing out the caps on Social Security contributions in order to provide the needed updates to seniors’ earned benefits, as well as, make improvements to the solvency of Social Security’s general fund. All working Americans and their employers would pay contributions at the same rate on all their earnings, just as they have been doing for Medicare since 1994.

Annual Caregiver Credit In addition, those who must take time away from their job to care for children or aging family members, most commonly women, face a significant reduction in their Social Security benefits when they reach retirement. The CPC endorses the computation of the Social Security benefits that give an annual caregiver credit for each year of caregiving to ensure equity among Social Security beneficiaries. 

Long Term Solvency and Preservation of Social Security — The CPC’s proposed benefit and revenue changes will improve the adequacy of Social Security’s benefits while also restoring Social Security to long-range actuarial balance. This plan will extend the long-term solvency of Social Security. Unlike the budgets proposed by President Trump and Congressional Republicans, The People’s Budget recognizes that the earned benefits of Social Security and Medicare must be reserved exclusively for the purpose of paying those benefits and associated administrative costs, and opposes modifying Social Security or Medicare as a means of achieving a deal addressing the national debt. The People’s Budget opposes measures that seek savings in Social Security and Medicare to pay for unrelated programs, and recognize that any savings from changes to Social Security and Medicare should be used to improve these programs for beneficiaries. 

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