Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Progressive Values Must Shape Federal Budget

Progressive Values Must Shape Federal Budget
By Gary L. Flowers
Executive Director & CEO
Black Leadership Forum, Inc.
April 17-24, 2011

Contrary to television “talking heads”, all budgets are not all the same. How private citizens construct budgets is vastly different from how government should do so. Household budgets at their best are balanced by not spending more than revenue received. Government budgets are different in that, by providing services to the public, there is not a “zero/sum” construct. Some programs within a federal budget must be preserved for the good of the nation.

In short, politics can be defined as who gets what, and when. Therefore, budgets drafted by politicians are moral documents, filled with the values of who and what is-important.

Such is the backdrop for the raging debate in Congress over America’s federal budget in how to address spending cuts to the “debt ceiling” (America’s credit card) and retain our nation’s bond rating in order to produce lower long-term deficits

There are two budgetary views that receive most of the news coverage by commercial television outlets: Those of Democratic and Republican members of Congress.

The Republican budgetary proposal seems to value war and the wealthy. As though imitating “reverse Robin Hood” the Grand Ole Party would take from the poor and give to the rich. The idea of “trickle down” economics where the rich get richer, and somehow stimulate the economy to share there money with the less fortunate has been proven untrue over the past 30 years. In the spirit of President Ronald Reagan who coined the phrase “starve the beast”, Republican leaders today intend to use the federal budget to dramatically reduce programs established for the dispossessed and downtrodden. Another popular phrase used by Republicans is to “shrink the size of government.” Yeah, right!

If such a philosophy of “smaller government” were taken to its nonsensical conclusion, we would have less post offices, interstate highways, traffic lights, and police and fire departments. Not good.

Democrats, on the other side of the political aisle, seem to favor cutting programs for the poor underprivileged within the national budget, but by less than the Republicans’ plan. Thus, top Democrats propose to place “everything [programs] on the table for cutting.” The one major point of the Democrat’s plan I believe will be beneficial to the nation is the proposed repeal of Bush-era tax cuts to millionaires (top 2% wealthy in the nation.

In the 1970’s I remember one of my grandmother’s favorite television shows was “The Price is Right”. On the show, contestants were asked to decide whether they wanted to take a chance on winning the contents behind sealed doors. The show’s host would euphorically ask: “Do you want door number one or door number two?”

In today’s budget proposal battle, the nation may well need “door number three”, by way of the proposed budget offered by the Progressive Caucus of the United States Congress. Unlike proposals thrown by the Democrats and Republicans, the Progressive Caucuses “People’s Budget” would preserve needy domestic programs and cut programs for the greedy. For example, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood would be left in tact. Moreover, the “public option” would give Americans the choice of selecting a health plan provided, in part, by the government that would cost less than those provided by private health providers. Under the “Peoples Budget” would cut costly programs such as military ones within the Department of Defense and millionaires would be forced to pay their fair share in taxes. Sounds good to me.

The American people should value the People’s Budget offered by the Progressive Caucus within the Congress. Ask your representative is he or she is a member of the Progressive Caucus.

In linking leadership,

Gary L. Flowers
Executive Director & CEO
Black Leadership Forum, Inc.

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