On Wednesday, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) along with other members of the U.S. House of Representatives Progressive Caucus introduced their "Back to Work Budget" proposal at a noon press conference outside the House Budget Committee hearing room in the Capitol Building. Proponents say that the plan will invigorate the U.S. economy by creating 7 million jobs and reducing the national deficit by $4.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
According to a statement from the Progressive Caucus, the plan will result in a 5 percent unemployment rate in 3 years by "rebuilding roads and bridges, hiring teachers, nurses and firefighters, and rebuilding our nation’s schools."
The budget plans to raise revenue by immediately allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for people making more than $250,000 per year, raising the tax rate on millionaires and billionaires from 45 to 49 percent and taxing investment gains at the same rate as wage income. The plan also proposes to end "corporate welfare" by closing loopholes that reward companies for sending production and profits overseas, as well as ending the billions of dollars in tax credits for oil companies and other major corporations that have shown record profits in recent years.
The plan intends to reduce defense spending to 2006 levels and enact a tax on financial transactions. Currently stock trading and other transactions between financial institutions are untaxed. Attaching a fee to securities transactions, currency transactions and other inter-bank exchanges would not only raise revenue, but hopefully reduce the kind of rampant, unchecked speculation that contributed to the 2008 financial crash.
In addition, the progressive budget hopes to lower health costs by instituting a public option for health insurance, negotiating drug prices and reducing fraud.
UPDATE: Raw Story spoke with Rep. Keith Ellison, who characterized the new budget as an ideological foil to the budget propsed by Wisconsin's Rep. Paul Ryan.
"Every budget tells a story," said Ellison. The story outlined in the Ryan budget plan is, in Ellison's words, essentially, "Hey, rich people, we've got you covered."
"We're not going to contend with Paul Ryan in terms of who can impose austerity in a less harsh way," he continued. "We're going the other direction. We're trying to put people back to work. A by-product of our bill is that we will do deficit reduction, $4.5 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years."
"This is the right budget," he said. "This is the budget we should have."