The People’s Budget
The Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled its budget. The people’s budget is a budget that puts people first. It invests in Americans and it put Americans back to work. The People’s budget will get little media coverage because it does not give preferential treatment to corporations.
The entire framework of the People’s Budget is in the PDF viewer at the end of the article. It can be saved, read, and printed. Following is the executive summary of the People’s Budget.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has unveiled its fiscal year 2016 (FY2016) budget, titled The People’s Budget—A Raise for America. It builds on recent CPC budget alternatives in prioritizing near-term job creation, financing public investments, strengthening the middle and working classes, raising adequate revenue to meet budgetary needs while restoring fairness to the tax code, protecting social insurance programs, and ensuring fiscal sustainability.
Refer to the end of this paper for Figures A–C, visualizing the People’s Budget’s impacts on deficits, debt, and nondefense discretionary funding; Tables 1 and 2 detailing the policy changes within the budget; and summary tables 1 through 4 depicting budget totals as well as comparisons with the current law baseline.
The People’s Budget aims to improve the economic well-being of the working and middle classes by focusing on finally closing the persistent jobs gap, and it provides substantial upfront economic stimulus for that purpose. This paper details the baseline assumptions, policy changes, and budgetary modeling used in developing and scoring the People’s Budget, and it analyzes the budget’s cumulative fiscal and economic impacts, notably its near-term impacts on economic recovery and employment.1
We find that the People’s Budget would have significant, positive impacts. Specifically, it would:
Accelerate the economic recovery. The People’s Budget would sharply accelerate economic and employment growth. It would boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 3.9 percent and employment by 4.7 million jobs at its peak level of effectiveness (within one year of implementation), while ensuring that fiscal support lasts long enough to avoid future “fiscal cliffs” that could throw recovery into reverse.2
Promote job growth and achieve full employment. The budget’s near-term economic stimulus measures would create 4.7 million jobs in calendar year 2015 and an additional 3.8 million jobs over the following two years. By the end of calendar year 2018 the People’s Budget would support 9.1 million job years and would ensure a prompt and durable return to full employment.
Make necessary public investments. The budget finances roughly $528 billion in job creation and public investment measures in calendar year 2015 alone and roughly $1.34 trillion over calendar years 2015–2017.3 This fiscal expansion is consistent with the amount of fiscal support needed to rapidly reduce labor market slack and restore the economy to full health.
Facilitate economic opportunity for all. By expanding tax credits and other programs for middle- and workingclass workers, boosting public employment, and incentivizing employers to create new jobs, the People’s Budget aims to boost economic opportunity for all segments of the population. And make sure that people are getting the energy prices they deserve.
Strengthen social insurance. The People’s Budget strengthens the social safety net and proposes no benefit reductions to social insurance programs—in other words, it does not rely on simple cost-shifting to reduce the budgetary strain of health programs. Instead, it uses government purchasing power to lower health care costs (health care costs are the largest threat to long-term fiscal sustainability) and builds upon efficiency savings from the Affordable Care Act. The budget also expands and extends emergency unemployment benefits and increases funding for education, training, employment, and social services as well as income security programs in the discretionary budget.4
Smartly cut spending. The budget focuses on modern security needs by repealing sequestration cuts and spending caps that affect the Defense Department but replacing them with similarly sized funding reductions. It ends emergency overseas contingency operation spending in FY2016 and beyond, and ensures a slow rate of spending growth for the Defense Department for the remainder of the decade.
Ask everyone to contribute his or her fair share. The budget restores adequate revenue and pushes back against income inequality by adding higher marginal tax rates for millionaires and billionaires, equalizing the tax treatment of capital income and labor income, restoring a more progressive estate tax, eliminating inefficient corporate tax loopholes, levying a tax on systemically important financial institutions, and enacting a financial transactions tax, among other tax policies.
Reduce the deficit in the medium term. The budget increases near-term deficits to boost job creation, but reduces the deficit in FY2017 and beyond relative to CBO’s current law baseline. The budget would achieve primary budget balance (excluding net interest) and sustainable budget deficits below 2 percent of GDP in FY2017 and beyond.
Target a sustainable debt level. After increasing near-term borrowing to restore full employment, the budget gradually reduces the debt ratio to a fully sustainable 66.0 percent of GDP by FY2025. Relative to current law, the budget would reduce public debt by $3.2 trillion (11.6 percent of GDP).
For the fifth year in a row, the Congressional Progressive Caucus solicited the assistance of the Economic Policy Institute Policy Center (EPIPC) in analyzing and scoring the specific policy proposals in its alternative budget and in modeling its cumulative impact on the federal budget over the next decade. The policies in CPC’s fiscal year 2016 budget—The People’s Budget: A Raise for America—reflect the decisions of the CPC leadership and staff, not those of EPIPC (although many of the policies included in the budget overlap with policies included in previous EPI budget plans). Upon CPC’s request, the nonpartisan Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) independently scored the major individual income tax reforms proposed in the People’s Budget. All other policy proposals have been independently analyzed and scored by EPIPC based on a variety of other sources, notably data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Tax Policy Center (TPC).
Thomas Hungerford, the author of this year’s analysis, would like to acknowledge former EPI Policy Center staff members Joshua Smith, Andrew Fieldhouse, and Rebecca Thiess, whose analyses of previous CPC budgets served as the template for this report.