Much of Biden’s federal budget proposal is what we all need
Editor’s note: We’re pleased to share this thoughtful piece by Karen Dolan, Director of the Criminalization of Race and Poverty project at the Institute for Policy Studies, and urge you to take a look at the figures she includes about the Pentagon budget. One friendly amendment – the new revenues from the ultra-rich and corporations in the Biden budget are close to $5 trillion over the next decade, according to Americans for Tax Fairness (see their summary here). This is well warranted, considering the extent to which multi-millionaires and corporations have not paid their fair share while greatly increasing their wealth.
Biden’s commonsense budget proposal takes strong moves forward to level the grossly unequal economic playing field in this country. It shores up tattered programs for poor, low-income, and middle-income American families, no matter what we look like or where we live.
As an expression of values, its proposals to invest in families and workers, protect Social Security and strengthen Medicare reflect the values of most of us.
The domestic spending side of Biden’s recently released federal budget proposal reduces the federal deficit by almost $3 trillion over the next decade and makes necessary investments in our well-being. It invests in housing and health, child and elder care, and education and brings back the very popular expanded Child Tax Credit that cut child poverty just about in half.
The President’s budget proposes investing $600 billion, over ten years, in child care and early childhood learning, boosting children’s development and opportunities to have greater academic and employment success throughout their lives. It increases funding for students, including students with disabilities, grades k-12.
This and the long-overdue funding of paid family medical leave would allow parents to get back to work and keep their jobs without the worry of choosing between child care and food or between working while sick or losing one’s job.
It increases higher education affordability with a modest increase in Pell Grants.
In the midst of a serious affordable housing crisis, which serves to undermine nearly every aspect of families’ efforts to survive and thrive, this budget proposed critical rental assistance and additional housing voucher funding. It helps foster children transition to a safe and productive life once they age out of the system and supports low-income veterans’ families.
It raises investments in clean energy by 26 percent. It helps those who lack health care because they live in one of the 12 states that refused to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, (ACA) while lowering prescription drug costs and making permanent pandemic-era subsidies so that economically struggling people can afford coverage in the ACA marketplace. It shores up Medicare for at least 25 years.
And it pays for it by raising $4 trillion in revenues over the next ten years simply by closing unfair corporate tax loopholes and requiring the Elon Musks of the country to pay as much in taxes as you, your child’s teacher, or your local firefighter does. Currently, billionaires pay an average of 8 percent in taxes while the rest of us pay 14 percent. Some billionaires and big corporations pay nothing at all in taxes.
What could be fairer, more common sense? It’s a win-win for all of us and corrects a glaring aspect of unfairness in our tax code that allowed U.S. billionaires to increase their wealth by 70 percent during the pandemic while the rest of us are working hard to keep food on the table.
Where Biden’s budget falls woefully short is its call for an increase, rather than a reduction, in an already obscenely bloated defense budget. During a time when the U.S. isn’t embroiled in any war, not only should the military budget not increase, we should be seeing a peace dividend and investing those funds into programs that help rather than hurt our families and workers.
As the National Priorities Project explains, more than half of all discretionary spending in this proposed budget goes to the military and fully two-thirds of the discretionary budget goes to a combination of military, veterans’ programs, and heavily militarized homeland security.
More needs to be done for the nearly 140 million people in the U.S. who struggle economically in the wealthiest nation in the country, but Biden’s budget proposal for social investments is a solid step in the right direction.