When I was younger, I would play a game with my friends called “Keep Away,” the object of which was to attempt to “keep away” the ball from one chosen person. In the first hundred days of our new administration, it has felt as if I and millions of others have been placed in an adult version of this childhood game – yet instead of a ball being the object of play, what could potentially be kept away is far more alarming: jobs, health care, education and housing. But the Congressional Progressive Caucus, with their newly released budget plan called “The People’s Budget: A Roadmap for the Resistance,” has a new game in mind, one where every person has the chance to be a winner.
The People’s Budget (thankfully) goes against much of the budget policy that we’ve seen thus far from the release of President Trump’s “skinny budget,” which calls for extreme cuts to funding for programs that benefit women, families, low-wage workers, and just about every other person who is less privileged than Donald Trump and his friends. Instead, the People’s Budget opts for more equitable spending priorities that “reinvest in American families” and “put political and economic power back in the hands of the people.”
Here are some of the proposals highlighted in the People’s Budget:
- Invest in an affordable health care system that supports women, children and families. In stark contrast to the disastrous repeal bill that a (slim) majority in the House just passed, the People’s Budget would protect the Affordable Care Act, would (finally!) repeal the Hyde Amendment, which blocks access to abortions for many low-income women, and would increase Title X funding, which covers comprehensive family planning and preventative health services. And it would extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and reduce the cost of prescription drugs so that families don’t have to choose between buying medicine, groceries, and other essentials.
- Ensure that quality education is affordable and accessible to all – from pre-kindergarten to college. The People’s Budget would greatly expand access to affordable, high-quality child care, fully fund Head Start, and provide universal access to quality pre-kindergarten programs. It would provide educators with professional development, resources and the other necessary tools to best mold young minds in the classrooms, and ensure that child care workers are paid a fair wage. It also includes measures that would reduce the costs and debt burden for many students by offering student loan refinancing and reducing student loan interest rates.
- Foster a fair and equitable tax system for working families. The days of massive tax breaks for corporations and the one percent would be no more. The People’s Budget would treat income from investments the same as income from work, put an end to unlimited tax write-offs for executive pay, and close many other corporate tax loopholes that cost us billions of dollars. It would also raise revenue from the wealthiest Americans who can afford to pay their fair share. In addition, the People’s Budget would strengthen tax credits for working families by expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and improving the Child Tax Credit.
- Create and preserve affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. It is absolutely critical that we address the affordable housing crisis that is affecting millions of families. The People’s Budget would increase funding for the HOME and Community Development Block Grant programs, invest in housing for vulnerable populations such as seniors and people with disabilities, and invest in the National Housing Trust and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps millions of Americans stay warm in the winter.
- Provide pathways out of poverty for low-income people and communities. The People’s Budget would strengthen critical programs that combat poverty and support low-wage workers, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), child nutrition programs, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDDBG)—which are especially important for women and their families. It would also improve the well-being of low-wage workers by raising the minimum wage and increasing funding for worker protection agencies.
In addition to these proposals, the People’s Budget calls for comprehensive immigration reform that protects immigrant families and children by opposing funding for President Trump’s border wall and immigration policies that seek to ban people from entering the country on the basis of religion, while standing with sanctuary cities.
The People’s Budget lays out a blueprint that levels the playing field for all Americans because a stronger economy can only exist when access to opportunity is granted to everyone and not just the wealthy. A budget plan like this would truly be a win for all.