Continuing a 30-year-long tradition, the Congressional Black Caucus April 14 presented its alternative budget for fiscal 2012 to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The next day it and other proposals were resoundingly defeated as the Republican-dominated House passed the draconian budget presented by Representative Paul Ryan, R-Wis. on party lines. Nonetheless, the CBC budget, like that of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, will continue to serve as a starting point for discussions about maintaining and even increasing funds for human needs while at the same time significantly cutting the national deficit.
The Congressional Black Caucus said that during the next decade, its budget would cut $5.7 trillion more from the deficit than President Obama's budget, and $1.3 trillion more than the Republican budget.
Speaking before the House Rules Committee, CBC chair Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., called the U.S. budget "a moral document that guides the way we choose to run our government and help the people we serve."
The CBC's top proposals, he said, "are promoting job creation and economic development, providing lifetime educational opportunities, and protecting the health care that we worked so tirelessly for the past 40 years ... We can only make these goals a reality by sustaining and strengthening the programs that invest in people."
Noting that while overall unemployment declines, joblessness among African Americans is increasing, Cleaver said, "Cutting funding to programs that assist hard working Americans, help families with their most basic needs, maintain our crumbling infrastructure and expand access to educational opportunities will only make these statistics worse. Our success as a nation is interwoven with the success of all communities."
The CBC said its proposal adopts most of the revenue-increasing concepts in President Obama's 2012 budget, including letting the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire permanently. It also calls for taxing capital gains and dividends at the same rate as ordinary working people's income. A 0.25 percent financial speculation tax would be levied on stock transactions.
Among other proposals: taxing all profits of U.S. corporations the same whether achieved within or outside the country, ending tax preferences for debt-financed projects, ending mortgage interest deductions for vacation homes and yachts, achieving better tax enforcement, and creating a public health insurance option in state health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.
The CBC would keep military spending at the same level proposed by the Obama administration.
Its budget would protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while restoring proposed cuts to the Low Income Heating Assistance Program, Community Development and Community Services Block Grants, the HOME Investment Partnership Program, Pell Grants and subsidized loans for grad students.
The CBC would invest billions more in education and job training, transportation, advanced research and development, health care including minority health services and AIDS drug assistance, veterans' care, emergency unemployment and welfare funds.
The Congressional Black Caucus is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. At its founding in 1971, it had 13 members; it now has 43, including one Republican.