The Progressive Path To Deficit Reduction


Today, President Obama will deliver a wide-ranging speech laying out a strategy to deal with the U.S. budget deficit. Although the exact policies that he will endorse are unknown, he is expected to lay out a vision that will alter the country’s entitlement programs and call for high-income earners to pay more taxes. In addressing the U.S. debt, Obama is entering an increasingly heated debate about how to address our long-term deficits in a way that does not shoulder Main Street Americans with undue burdens or hinder job growth. On one side, conservatives are proposing cruel plans that would sacrifice the services and investments in America’s great middle class while asking nothing more from the wealthiest among us. On the other side, a growing number of progressives are demanding fair sacrifice that protects our crucial needs while demanding fair sacrific e from those who are richer than ever. The path that we choose will determine the very kind of country we will have in the future: one where only the wealthiest among us have opportunities or one that enshrines the American Dream — the idea that anyone, no matter what their background, can work hard and succeed.

EXPLAINING THE DEBT: To understand the most responsible way to tackle our long-term deficit problem, it’s important to first understand exactly what the challenge of the debt is and what caused it. Interest rates and inflation are currently low, and addressing unemployment is a far more pressing immediate problem. A March 2010 CBS News poll found that 51 percent of Americans said that jobs/economy is the most important problem facing the country, and only seven percent said the deficit was. Still, we should address the $14.2 trillion debt and the $1.3 trillion budget deficit over time, as doing so is crucial to our long-term economic health. In the short-term, there are a handful of major factors driving our debt. This includes the cost of two wars, a runaway defense budget, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, taxes on the richest Americans being the lowest in a generation, and a recession caused by the lack of regulation of Wall Street. The greatest long-term driver of our debt is health care costs, with our “possibly most inefficient” system in the world having us spend more than any other country in the world on health care with worse results. Thus, long-term deficit reduction plans that do not seriously deal with these causes of the current debt are avoiding the key issue.

EMACIATING MAIN STREET, ENRICHING THE RICH: Conservatives in Congress and the right-wing intelligentsia have unleashed a flurry of deficit reduction plans in recent months, which both continue to enrich the wealthy with massive tax cuts and which take aim at programs and investments for Main Street — solutions that were tried under the previous president and failed. In House Republicans’ much-touted budget resolution, H.R. 1, some of which made it into the recent budget deal to keep the government open, they dramatically cut Pell Grants, Head Start, foreign aid to children suffering from malaria, and other programs that benefit ordinary p eople, but are in no way the cause of our modern deficits. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) upped the ante when he released his FY2012 budget, which continues to call for massive and crippling cuts to the Pell Grant program, slash the Food Stamp program by $127 billion over ten years, effectively privatize Medicare, and likely increase taxes on the middle cl ass while dramatically cutting them for the rich and corporations, actually making taxes on the rich lower than at any other time since Herbert Hoover’s presidency. At the end of the day, Ryan’s budget would leave the safety net in tatters, investments in Main Street severely under-funded, and would have seniors paying the majority of their income for health care, destroying the promise of Medicare — a system that Americans actually want expanded, not crippled. And while these conservatives are quick to ask Main Street to pay for debt that it did not primarily cause, they have no problem exempting some of the nation’s biggest dirty energy corporations from fair sacrifice. Last month, House Republicans effectively said “so be it,” as they voted in lockstep to protect billions of dollars in corporate welfare for Big Oil.

THE PROGRESSIVE PATH: While conservatives seem intent on blaming the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the middle class for deficits that they did not primarily cause, progressives are promoting plans that tackle the deficit by promoting fair sacrifice and responsibility. The CAP report “The First Step: A Progressive Plan for Meaningful Deficit Reduction” lays out a number of progressive deficit reduction steps that rely equally on raising revenues and cutting spending. It calls for implementing a graduated surtax on adjusted gross income for households making more than $1,000,000 a year, imposing a $5 per barrel fee on imported oil, and other measures that, when combined with spending cuts like wasteful tax expenditures, subsidies for Big Oil, a downsized defense budget more appropriate to our needs, and other measures, would yield single-year deficit reduction of $255 billion. This plan would stabilize the debt situation by 2015. This plan would stabilize the budget situation by 2015. Meanwhile, the Congressional Progressive Cauc us (CPC) has put out its own budget proposal, called “The People’s Budget,” which if enacted would reach primary balance in 2014 and result in a budget surplus by 2021. The major proposals within the budget include, but are not limited to, enacting a millionaire’s tax, initiating a progressive estate tax, ending corporate welfare for the dirty fuels industry, reining in the defense budget, and enacting a public option in the health care system as well as authorizing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices. Economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University Jeffrey Sachs notes that the CPC budget is a “truly centrist initiative,” if judged by American public opinion. Progressive economist Dean Baker has proposed allowing Medicare beneficiaries to seek care overseas, taking advantage of cheaper health care systems. Baker estimates that if fifty percent of Medicare beneficiaries opted for this globalized option, then taxpayers would save more than $40 billion a year by 2020. Additionally, there are numerous proposals for a financial transactions tax — which would ask that some of the very same banks that caused the global financial crisis would be responsible for helping us pay for it. A Dean Baker analysis of these plans finds that a “0.25 percent tax on trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other Wall Street financial instruments…would easily raise between $50 billion and $150 billion annually,” while doing little to actually harm economic productivity. While there is healthy debate among progressives about these ideas, they make one thing clear: there is a way to reduce long-term de ficits that does not have to unduly harm Main Street America and that asks for fair sacrifice that includes the richest among us.

Congress: debates&votes -the Republican led House -the Senate


The Senate Convenes at 9:30amET April 13, 2011

Convenes: 9:30am

Following any leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to a period of morning business for debate only until 7pm with Senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each, with the Republicans controlling the time from 11:30am until 12:30pm for the purposes of a colloquy and the Majority controlling the time from 1pm until 2pm.

We are working to complete action on the small business jobs bill.

In addition, the text of the long-term CR has been filed in the House and is available for review. We expect to receive it from the House on Thursday.

There will be no roll call votes during today’s session of the Senate.

The Senate has reached the following agreement to consider the long-term Continuing Resolution:

On Thursday, April 14th, following any Leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to a period of morning business with Senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.

When the Senate receives the papers from the House with respect to continuing resolution and the correcting resolutions, the Senate will proceed to a series of 3 roll call votes in relation the following items in the order listed below:

-H.Con.Res.35, a correcting resolution relative to a prohibition of federal funds for health care reform; and

-H.Con.Res.36, a correcting resolution relative to a prohibition of federal funds for Planned Parenthood;

-H.R.1473, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2011;

There will be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to each vote; no amendments are in order to the bill or the concurrent resolutions prior to the votes; the correcting resolutions and the bill will be subject to 60-vote thresholds; the only points of order and motions in order are budget points of order and the applicable motions to waive.

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The next meeting is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on April 13, 2011.

CURRENT HOUSE FLOOR PROCEEDINGS

LEGISLATIVE DAY OF APRIL 13, 2011

112TH CONGRESS – FIRST SESSION

8:20 P.M. –

The House adjourned. The next meeting is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on April 14, 2011.

On motion to adjourn Agreed to by voice vote.

Mr. Pearce moved that the House do now adjourn.

7:51 P.M. –

SPECIAL ORDER SPEECHES – The House resumed Special Order speeches.

Mr. Bishop (UT) asked unanimous consent That, when the House adjourns on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, it adjourn to meet at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 14, 2011, for Morning-Hour Debate and 11:00 a.m. for legislative business. Agreed to without objection.

7:50 P.M. –

Mr. Bishop (UT) filed a report from the Committee on Rules on H. Res. 223.

5:51 P.M. –

SPECIAL ORDER SPEECHES – The House has concluded all anticipated legislative business and has proceeded to Special Order speeches.

5:43 P.M. –

ONE MINUTE SPEECHES – The House proceeded further with one minute speeches.

H.R. 1217:

to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund

5:42 P.M. –

Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

On passage Passed by recorded vote: 236 – 183 (Roll no. 264).

5:36 P.M. –

On motion to recommit with instructions Failed by recorded vote: 189 – 234 (Roll no. 263).

5:19 P.M. –

The previous question on the motion to recommit with instructions was ordered without objection.

5:10 P.M. –

DEBATE – The House proceeded with 10 minutes of debate on the Loebsack motion to recommit with instructions. The instructions contained in the motion seek to require the bill to be reported back to the House with an amendment inserting a provision that would preserve the Prevention and Public Health Fund for prevention, wellness, and public health activities for individuals 65 years or older. A point of order was reserved, but was subsequently removed.

5:09 P.M. –

Mr. Loebsack moved to recommit with instructions to Energy and Commerce.

The House adopted the amendment as agreed to by the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union.

The previous question was ordered pursuant to the rule.

5:08 P.M. –

The House rose from the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union to report H.R. 1217.

On agreeing to the Castor (FL) amendment Failed by recorded vote: 188 – 238 (Roll no. 262).

5:00 P.M. –

On agreeing to the Castor (FL) amendment Failed by recorded vote: 187 – 237 (Roll no. 261).

4:34 P.M. –

POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS – At the conclusion of debate on the Castor(FL)amendment no. 3, the Chair put the question on adoption of the amendment and by voice vote, announced that the noes had prevailed. Ms. Castor(FL) demanded a recorded vote and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of adoption of the amendment until later in the legislative day.

4:26 P.M. –

DEBATE – Pursuant to the provisions of H.Res. 219, the Committee of the Whole proceeded with 10 minutes of debate on the Castor amendment no. 3.

Amendment offered by Ms. Castor (FL).

An amendment numbered 3 printed in House Report 112-61 to require the U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of the economic impact funds awarded through the Prevention and Public Health Fund would have on states and communities.

4:25 P.M. –

POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS – At the conclusion of debate on the Castor(FL) amendment no. 2, the Chair put the question on adoption of the amendment and by voice vote, announced that the noes had prevailed. Ms. Castor(FL) demanded a recorded vote and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of adoption of the amendment until later in the legislative day.

4:17 P.M. –

DEBATE – Pursuant to the provisions of H.Res. 219, the Committee of the Whole proceeded with 10 minutes of debate on the Castor amendment no. 2.

Amendment offered by Ms. Castor (FL).

An amendment numbered 2 printed in House Report 112-61 to require the U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of the impact funds awarded through the Prevention and Public Health Fund would have on preventing chronic diseases and promoting health.

4:16 P.M. –

On agreeing to the Jackson Lee (TX) amendment Agreed to by voice vote.

4:10 P.M. –

DEBATE – Pursuant to the provisions of H.Res. 219, the Committee of the Whole proceeded with 10 minutes of debate on the Jackson Lee amendment.

4:09 P.M. –

Amendment offered by Ms. Jackson Lee (TX).

An amendment numbered 1 printed in House Report 112-61 to require the Department of Health and Human Services to post on its website a notice of rescission of unobligated Section 4002 funds and the amount rescinded.

3:20 P.M. –

GENERAL DEBATE – The Committee of the Whole proceeded with one hour of general debate on H.R. 1217.

The Speaker designated the Honorable K. Michael Conaway to act as Chairman of the Committee.

House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union pursuant to H. Res. 219 and Rule XVIII.

Rule provides for consideration of H.R. 1217 with 1 hour of general debate. Previous question shall be considered as ordered without intervening motions except motion to recommit with or without instructions. Measure will be considered read. Specified amendments are in order. The resolution waives all points of order against consideration of the bill. The resolution makes in order only those amendments printed in the report. All points of order against the amendments are waived.

3:19 P.M. –

Considered under the provisions of rule H. Res. 219.

On approving the Journal Agreed to by voice vote.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS – The Chair announced that the unfinished business was on the question of adoption of the Speaker’s approval of the Journal.

H. Res. 218:

providing for consideration of the bill ( H.R. 1473) making appropriations for the Department of Defense and the other departments and agencies of the Government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes; providing for consideration of the concurrent resolution ( H. Con. Res. 35) directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives to make a correction in the enrollment of H.R. 1473; and providing for consideration of the concurrent resolution ( H. Con. Res. 36) directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives to make a correction in the enrollment of H.R. 1473

3:18 P.M. –

Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

On agreeing to the resolution Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 241 – 179 (Roll no. 260).

3:11 P.M. –

On ordering the previous question Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 242 – 183 (Roll no. 259).

3:05 P.M. –

Considered as unfinished business.

3:04 P.M. –

UNFINISHED BUSINESS – The Chair announced that the unfinished business was on ordering the previous question on H.Res. 218 and on adoption of H.Res. 218, if ordered, which had been debated earlier and on which further proceedings had been postponed.

H. Res. 219:

providing for consideration of the bill ( H.R. 1217) to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund

Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

On agreeing to the resolution Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 237 – 180 (Roll no. 258).

2:58 P.M. –

On ordering the previous question Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 238 – 182 (Roll no. 257).

1:32 P.M. –

DEBATE – The House proceeded with one hour of debate on H. Res. 219.

1:31 P.M. –

Considered as privileged matter.

H. Res. 218:

providing for consideration of the bill ( H.R. 1473) making appropriations for the Department of Defense and the other departments and agencies of the Government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes; providing for consideration of the concurrent resolution ( H. Con. Res. 35) directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives to make a correction in the enrollment of H.R. 1473; and providing for consideration of the concurrent resolution ( H. Con. Res. 36) directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives to make a correction in the enrollment of H.R. 1473

1:30 P.M. –

POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS – At the conclusion of debate on H.Res. 218, the Chair put the question on ordering the previous question and by voice vote announced that the ayes had prevailed. Mr. Polis (CO) demanded the yeas and nays, and the Chair postponed further proceedings on ordering the previous question until later in the legislative day.

12:32 P.M. –

DEBATE – The House proceeded with one hour of debate on H. Res. 218.

12:31 P.M. –

Considered as privileged matter.

12:26 P.M. –

Point of order raised by Mr. Weiner on the content of the measure. Mr Weiner stated that the measure violated the rules of the House because its action was not contingent upon Senate action. Point of order overruled by the Chair.

12:25 P.M. –

SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT FILED – Mr. Dreier submitted a supplemental report on H.Res. 218.

12:04 P.M. –

ONE MINUTE SPEECHES – The House proceeded with one minute speeches which by direction of the Chair, would be limited to 15 per side of the aisle.

12:03 P.M. –

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE – The Chair designated Mr. Cicilline to lead the Members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

12:02 P.M. –

POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS ON APPROVAL OF THE JOURNAL – The Chair announced that she had examined the Journal of the last day’s proceedings and had approved it. Mr. Poe (TX) demanded that the question be put on agreeing to the Speaker’s approval of the Journal and by voice vote, the Chair announced that the ayes had prevailed. Mr. Poe (TX) objected to the voice vote based upon the absence of a quorum and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of the Speaker’s approval of the Journal until later in the legislative day.

12:01 P.M. –

Today’s prayer was offered by Reverend Dr. Jack Graham, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas.

12:00 P.M. –

The House convened, returning from a recess continuing the legislative day of April 13.

10:58 A.M. –

The Speaker announced that the House do now recess. The next meeting is scheduled for 12:00 P.M. today.

10:00 A.M. –

MORNING HOUR DEBATE – The House proceeded with Morning Hour Debate. At the conclusion of Morning Hour, the House will recess until 12:00 p.m. for the start of legislative business.

The Speaker designated the Honorable Rob Woodall to act as Speaker pro tempore for today.

The House convened, starting a new legislative day.