--March 14, 2013
On March 13, Senator Patty Murray released the budget plan prepared by the Senate Budget Committee. It presents a balanced approach to moving our nation forward to a future that is economically and physically healthy; and for which our young people will be prepared to lead us well.
In speaking to the new budget, Senator Murray emphasized the need for Americans to work in well-paying jobs. She recognized the sad state of our schools and hospitals, bridges and roads – noting a 2009 study by the American Society of Civil Engineers that gave our country a “D” grade due to over 70,000 bridges deemed “structurally deficient.”
Investing in infrastructure produces jobs, leading to more revenue and less need for government services. A long-term view of our nation mandates that we invest in education and skills-training from Head Start through Pell Grants.
In the opening statement of a Budget Committee hearing, Senator Murray emphasized that, “We simply can’t expect our economy to grow in a way that creates broad-based prosperity if we continue allowing our skills and education deficit to increase.” In her Opening Statement at the markup, she spoke clearly of the need for increased revenue, particularly from corporations and from the wealthiest households that must “pay their fair share.” “Our budget also maintains the key principle that every other bipartisan group has maintained, but that has been rejected by House Republicans: we don’t think the burden of deficit reduction should be unfairly borne by the most vulnerable children and the families who have already sacrificed so much.”
Equally clear is her call for significant cuts to the Pentagon – recognizing that there is plenty of waste, as reported by the Government Accountability Office – without hurting those currently defending our nation. The goals of the Senate budget sharply contrast with the House Budget on education, infrastructure and jobs that support a growth-oriented nation. The Senate budget also contrasts with the House budget on how to pay for meeting the nation’s needs: revenue and reduced Pentagon spending.
The Senate budget will eliminate the effects of sequestration – “with deficit reduction that is far more responsible, our budget follows the advice of experts and economists across the political spectrum who say it makes sense to invest in job-creation in the short term, while putting ourselves on a strong path to responsible and sustainable deficit and debt reduction over the medium and long-term.” There will be cuts to programs we value. These will be difficult to accept, but necessary and less damaging than cuts implied in the vague House Budget.
In addition to the House Budget promoted by Representative Ryan and the Senate Budget released by Senator Murray, at least two other proposals will be released. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is releasing “The Back to Work Budget,” and early next week the House Democrats under the leadership of Representative Chris Van Hollen will also release an alternative budget proposal.
NETWORK hopes that any final fiscal decisions will incorporate elements of the Senate and the Democratic Budget Resolutions, making a strong case for additional revenues, deeper cuts to Pentagon spending and protection of the safety net. These are necessary if those at the margins, the elderly and those who are infirm will live with dignity.