Senate Democrats reached agreement on a $ 3.5 trillion budget proposal it would dramatically expand health insurance, provide paid family leave, subsidize childcare, make community colleges free, and fund significant, if still insufficient, initiatives against the climate crisis. This isn’t the $ 6 trillion plan that Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Was looking for. But Sanders says if this plan passes, it will be “the most important law passed since the Great Depression.”
Historians of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, who saw the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, might quibble with this description. But what Sanders and the more moderate Democrats on the Budget Committee have agreed on is definitely, as the President says, “A big deal. ”
Now, however, comes the difficult part. This plan will not attract any Republican support. He will only go through the reconciliation process, with 50 Democratic votes and a decisive additional vote from Vice President Kamala Harris. For this to happen, this budget will need broad popular support. And the way to get broad popular support is to make it clear that this plan will be funded by taxing corporations and billionaires.
Defining taxation properly is essential, not just because many moderates demand that the plan be “”fully paid for”But because the American people must understand that this very wealthy country has the resources to finance a fair and equitable future for all Americans.
“In the past 16 months, since the official start of the pandemic shutdown, the combined wealth of 713 US billionaires has jumped $ 1.8 trillion, a gain of almost 60%. The combined total wealth of US billionaires rose from $ 2.9 trillion on March 18, 2020 to $ 4.7 trillion on July 9, 2021 “, Explain Chuck Collins, who directs the Inequalities and the Common Good Program for the Institute of Political Studies. “The wealth of billionaires has grown steadily since 1990, but a third of their wealth gains have taken place during the pandemic. The wealth of American billionaires has grown 19-fold over the past 31 years, from $ 240 billion adjusted for inflation in 1990 to $ 4.7 trillion in 2021. ”
In other words, the money is there.
It just needs to be put to work for the American people.
This is the key to selling a bold budget plan. Republicans will complain about the price to pay, and weak-willed Democrats will be inclined to listen to these criticisms. But if voters know how much money can be made by taxing the rich and multinational corporations, the sense of substantial spending – not just $ 3.5 trillion, but something closer to the $ 6 trillion that Sanders and others argued – will be enough for one win.
To create this awareness, Democrats need to talk not only about spending, but also about progressive and redistributive taxation.
Democrats will not hesitate to discuss the programs their plan will create, and the challenges it seeks to meet. When Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) briefed his caucus on the main lines of the budget on Tuesday, Senate advisers report, he focused on the main proposals to add new dental benefits, visual and auditory Medicare; guarantee family and medical leave; develop home care and community services for the elderly and people with disabilities; and reduce the costs of prescription drugs. He spoke about expanding the child tax credit, investing money in universal pre-K programs for 3- and 4-year-olds, making higher education free or more affordable for million students. He spoke about nutrition assistance and funding for affordable housing. He spoke of a series of initiatives designed to meet President Biden’s climate targets of 80% clean electricity and the percentage of carbon emissions in the entire economy by 2030.
All good. If, maybe, that’s not good enough, especially on the climate crisis, where the Sunrise movement says “an investment of $ 1 trillion per year over the next 10 years [is] what science requires to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs. But what is vitally important now is deconstructing the deficit hawks’ arguments on both sides, and getting the message across that there is more than enough money not just to rebuild. our infrastructure but to guarantee health care, housing and education as human rights, and to save the planet.
One of the most popular equations in American politics concludes: Working families don’t need to pay more, but plutocrats do. A Reuters / Ipsos poll last year found that 64% of voters agreed that “the very rich should contribute an additional share of their total wealth each year to support public programs.”
Sanders understands this. Discuss the budget plan on Tuesday, he said:
We believe this is a pivotal moment in American history. And for a very long time, the American people have watched the very rich get richer and the government develop policies that allow them to pay, in some cases, not a dime in federal income tax. They’ve seen companies make huge profits – in some cases they don’t pay a cent in taxes. And what this law says, among many, many other things, is that those days are gone.
The rich and big business will start paying their fair share of taxes so that we can protect the working families of this country. And all over America, in Vermont, Washington, Michigan, wherever it is, your mom and dad go to work but they can’t afford to babysit; they are terrified of whether or not they can afford to send their children to college: and they go to work on a collapsing bridge. And what this law does is that we will create millions of well-paying union jobs by rebuilding this country not only from physical infrastructure, but by meeting the human needs of our people who are many and who have long been neglected.
This is how to sell this budget, and the larger budgets that will be needed to create a just and functioning United States. Democrats should not be careful. They should boldly declare, as Franklin Roosevelt did at the height of his personal and political popularity, that it is time to tax the rich. “People know that vast personal income comes not only from the efforts, abilities or luck of those who receive it, but also from the opportunities for the benefits that the government itself brings.” said FDR in 1935. “Therefore, the onus is on the government to restrict these revenues with very high taxes. ”