Now There Are Four

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

You could say this is going to be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. But given the quality of the broth so far, you’d have a hard time convincing me that input from the left is going to spoil the mixture of budget proposals from the center right (Obama 4-13), the farther right (the Bowles-Simpson report), and the impossibly wrong right (the Paul Ryan fantasy plan.)

Still to come are the budget proposals from the 2011 “Gang of Six” (not to be confused with the 2009 “Gang of Six”, which was focused on health care legislation,) and the four Democrats and four Republican legislators to be named at a later date, who will start meeting with Vice President Joe Biden in early May with instructions from the President to give him a plan for reducing the deficit by the end of June.

But wait — there’s more. Entering from stage left we have The People’s Budget, offered by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Are you surprised to know there are enough progressives in the Congress to form a caucus?  I was; the caucus has 76 members, all but one a Democrat and a member of the House of Representatives.  The non-Democrat, non-House member is the amazing Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont. You can see his beautifully human-needs-sensitive fingerprints on every page of the CPC budget document.

Here are the bullet points in the CPC’s budget announcement.

The CPC proposal:

• Eliminates the deficits and creates a surplus by 2021
• Puts America back to work with a “Make it in America” jobs program
• Protects the social safety net
• Ends the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
• Is FAIR (Fixing America’s Inequality Responsibly)

What the proposal accomplishes:

• Primary budget balance by 2014.
• Budget surplus by 2021.
• Reduces public debt as a share of GDP to 64.1% by 2021, down 16.5 percentage points from
a baseline fully adjusted for both the doc fix and the AMT patch.
• Reduces deficits by $5.6 trillion over 2012-21, relative to this adjusted baseline.
• Outlays equal to 22.2% of GDP and revenue equal 22.3% of GDP by 2021.

The budget itself is here. I don’t find specific dollar amounts, but I do see by how much the caucus wants to increase or decrease various government functions. An impartial technical analysis is here; the Congressional Budget Office will issue its own analysis if it is passed by either chamber. (If you want to see CBO’s analysis of the Ryan plan, adopted on Arpil 15 by the House without a single Democratic vote, and sure to be DOA in the Senate, look here.) And an opinion piece on the Huffington Post is here.

News analysts are saying Obama has three plans to consider. Now there are four. Eventually there may be six, or maybe not. If Obama fails to look at the CPC proposal as well as those that lean irrevocably right, he’ll be making a serious, perhaps politically fatal, mistake. You can snub your political base only so many times before it finds other good uses for its time and money.

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