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Vote for a People’s Budget

June 10, 2011

By Mike, New Priorities Network

The two main 2012 federal budget choices that are facing Americans this year aren’t very appealing to anyone interested in reducing military spending, preserving the social safety net and creating jobs while at the same time reducing the national deficit and debt.

The Republicans’ version cuts taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations, cuts Medicare and social programs and cuts a minimum amount from the military to reduce the deficit by an estimated $1.6 trillion over 10 years. President Obama’s budget includes tax hikes for wealthy individuals and corporations, cuts in Medicare and social programs and smaller cuts in military spending to reduce the deficit by an estimated $4 trillion over 12 years.

But there’s a real alternative: the People’s Budget, sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. It invests $1.7 trillion in jobs and infrastructure. It doesn’t cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. It reduces the deficit more than Obama or the Republicans. It shifts tax responsibility back onto the wealthiest families and corporations. And it cuts runaway military spending $191 billion a year for the next 12 years, starting by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The People’s Budget got 77 votes when it went head-to-head with the Republican budget in Congress this April. So here’s the challenge: how do we take this humane, practical, commonsensical proposal and turn it into a contender?

Answer: by letting the grassroots have its say.

The New Priorities Network, a coalition of peace and economic justice organizations, has launched a “People’s Budget Preference Poll” campaign. You can go to the poll and read about the three alternatives –Obama’s, the Republicans’ and the Progressive Caucus’ — and vote for the budget of your choice. Results, compiled weekly, will go to the media and to the Senate to shape its budget debate.

Meanwhile, the New Priorities Network’s local affiliates are organizing Town Hall Meetings to promote the People’s Budget across the country. In 14 cities they will support SEIU’s “Fight for a Fair Economy” campaign, which is cosponsoring June-July forums with Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders. In other cities they will organize forums with local Progressive Caucus members and other members of Congress, or simply do their own.

It’s remarkable that a budget this logical ever saw daylight in the political fog that engulfs Washington these days. But the People’s Budget is not only surviving, it’s thriving, because people – in unions, peace groups and social service organizations — are crossing movement boundaries to promote it. They see it as the banner that carries their values, vision and priorities for 2012 and beyond. It is the policy document around which unity between widely diverse social forces is being forged.

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Institute Justice Team is one of 30 national organizations and 48 local and regional organizations that make up the New Priorities Network, a coalition advocating for cuts in military spending in order to shift funding to community needs. Mike P. is one of the Network coordinators.

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