Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a member of the Deficit Commission, has issued a plan [pdf] that poses a progressive alternative to that the the Commission Co-chairs. In a press release, she summarizes the central elements:
1) Increased economic stimulus to spur growth in the immediate term
· Provide $200 billion to invest over the next two years in measures to create jobs and spur economic growth, including passing the Local Jobs for America Act; and funding for education and law enforcement; Unemployment Insurance, Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program extensions; and infrastructure.
· Adopt the President’s proposals to eliminate overseas tax havens and incentives for outsourcing
2) Smart, targeted spending cuts
· Non-Defense Discretionary – $8.55 billion in savings through increased efficiency and cuts to programs that benefit large corporations that don’t need assistance.
· Defense Discretionary – $110.7 billion in cuts from the 2015 defense budget, including efficiency savings, reducing our troop levels, cutting weapons systems we don’t need, and scaling back the wartime increases in the size of the military.
3) Mandatory spending cuts
- Health Care – at least $17.2 billion in savings by implementing measures to bring down the cost of health care to the federal government and lower health care inflation overall.
- Other – $7.5 billion in savings by cutting agriculture subsidies in half, and redistributing federal support to offer greater benefits to small family farms reduce subsidies to large corporate agribusiness.
4) Reductions in tax expenditures
- Raise $132.2 billion by closing tax subsidies for companies that ship American jobs overseas.
5) Increases in revenues
- Raise $144.6 billion in revenue through progressive reforms to the estate tax, treating capital gains and dividends as regular income, and enacting a cap and trade proposal that includes protections for lower-income people.
- Enact President Obama’s budget proposal to let the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 brackets expire and return to 2009 estate tax levels.
- Non-tax revenue – raise $7 billion by addressing places where the private sector is currently under-paying.
Schakowsky also denounces the idea of cuts in social security for the bait-and-switch that it is:
“There is a better way than the Simpson-Bowles proposal – which relies heavily on benefit cuts instead of revenue increases.
“Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Addressing the Social Security issue as part of the deficit question is like attacking Iraq to retaliate for the 9/11 attacks – there is simply no relationship between the two and attempting to conflate them does a grave disservice to America’s seniors.
“Taking money from Social Security retirees whose average total income is $18,000 per year and average benefit is $14,000 ($12,000 for women) is simply wrong. It places them at fiscal risk and hurts the economy because they will be unable to purchase the goods they need. Americans in poll after poll have indicated their opposition to benefit cuts – particularly at a time when Wall Street bankers are making record bonuses.
The Schakowsky alternative does not contain any cuts to Social Security.
- It ensures long-term solvency to Social Security by eliminating the wage cap on the employer side and raising it to 90% on the employee side, applying FICA to all wage income below the cap, and establishing a modest legacy tax on wealthier Americans.
- Surplus funding that can be used to improve the extremely-modest benefits that are now provided.
This plan seems like a sensible place to begin a discussion. That isn’t likely to happen on the Commission, as Schakowsky’s plan doesn’t gouge the poor and middle class to enrich the wealthy. Of course, Obama will likely ignore or undercut it as he seeks his holy grail of “bipartisanship,” aka, caving.
November 16th, 2010