The Biden budget translates moral clarity about shared prosperity into dollars and cents
Editor’s note: The following statement was released Thursday, March 9, by Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs, in response to President Biden’s proposed FY 2024 budget:
“The Biden budget makes right and responsible choices: less poverty, more jobs, investments that help workers, families, and children, and more economic security for older Americans. It translates moral clarity about the need for shared prosperity into dollars and cents.
“Shared prosperity means that poor and working class Americans have the security of affordable health care, food, and housing. It means that we keep our nation’s promise to educate all our children. It depends on the support that caregivers provide – child care and community-based care for the aging and people with disabilities – so that people can work and families can be sustained. And it requires that millionaires and corporations pay a fairer share in taxes.
“The Biden budget takes important steps towards shared prosperity and sustained economic security. It would restore the stunning poverty-fighting effectiveness of the expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. Families with children would get $3,000 – $3,600 per child from the CTC through 2025 and will no longer be too poor to claim the full credit; the EITC would increase permanently for low-income workers without dependent children. It would sustain Medicare for another quarter century by increased contributions from those with incomes over $400,000.
“It would expand Medicaid, to ensure access to health coverage for millions of low-income people everywhere in the nation. The budget urges Congress to invest in nutrition programs when it works on the farm bill to provide healthy and free school meals to an additional 9 million children to fight back against hunger. Just this past month, more than one-quarter of people in households with incomes below $35,000 reported that in the previous week they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat. Adequate SNAP and child nutrition assistance is urgently needed.
“The Biden budget proposes modest but meaningful steps to make housing affordable and to reduce the national tragedy of people without homes, with targeted help to provide 20,000 rental vouchers for youth aging out of foster care as well as additional vouchers for extremely low-income veterans. In all, the budget estimates an additional 200,000 rental vouchers. The budget would provide $59 billion in new funds plus tax incentives to increase the supply of affordable housing. These are the right priorities, but much more is needed. Millions of households are paying more than half their income on rent; more than 13 percent of tenants reported last month that they were behind in their rent. The budget appears to fall short in helping households with low incomes to afford heating and cooling, despite the rising cost of home energy. Taking into account supplemental funding added this year, the budget recommends less than this year’s total, and would allow some of the funds to be used for water bills, because aid for those expenses is expiring in 2023. In February, about one in three people said their households reduced or did without basic needs, such as food or medicine, in order to pay a home energy bill.
“The Biden budget would strengthen families through its proposed 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave and 7 days of sick leave, and further strengthen them by adding affordable child care for 16 million children, as well as proposing federal and state partnerships to work towards universal free preschool for four-year-olds. Of great importance, the budget would invest $150 billion over 10 years to expand access to Home and Community Based Services through the Medicaid program. Such support will enable many older people and people with disabilities to live at home and avoid nursing home care; now there are long waiting lists to get such help.
The Biden budget increases spending on domestic and international programs that are appropriated annually by 7.3 percent (not counting veterans’ medical care, which is growing at a greater rate). This is likely to exceed inflation in FY 2024, and is a much needed increase for programs including K-12 education, public health, substance use and mental health services, child care, Head Start, job training, and much more. These programs have declined in value since FY 2010, taking inflation into account. In marked contrast, right-wing members of the House want to cut total funding for appropriations down to FY 2022 levels, which would be at minimum a 9 percent cut, and well over a 20 percent reduction if Congress decided to exempt Pentagon or veterans’ medical care.
“The Biden budget demonstrates that it is possible to make responsible investments while reducing federal deficits by $3 trillion over a decade. It achieves this through the basic fairness of requiring the richest among us to pay taxes, through its 25 percent “Billionaires Minimum Income Tax,” increased stock buyback tax, taxing investment income no less than income from work, and raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, up from 21 percent. It saves taxpayers billions of dollars by expanding negotiations over Medicare drug prices, and by collecting the revenues that wealthy tax evaders owe. Americans have long been outraged that some of the most profitable corporations as well as some billionaires have paid no taxes at all, or a far lower percentage than the rest of us. This budget addresses that outrage.
“In marked contrast, the extreme right-wing in Congress has exposed its real imperatives: it will protect low/no taxes for the rich and corporations at any cost, and it will slash vital services that vast numbers of Americans depend upon. The right wing says it cares about the deficit, but its support for making the 2017 tax cuts permanent would increase the deficit by $3 trillion, with those trillions overwhelmingly benefiting the rich, over the same decade in which the Biden budget would lower the deficit by $3 trillion. For the right-wing, the deficit is a convenient excuse to deny Americans health care, housing, food, education, and protections against the ravages of climate change. while recklessly threatening to plunge us into recession by refusing to approve the federal borrowing needed to pay for programs Congress has already approved. The right wing talks about requiring work, but makes it harder to sustain work by refusing to invest in child care, education, affordable health coverage, and green jobs. So-called “work requirement” plans in Medicaid and SNAP (nutrition) programs have been exposed as bureaucratic barriers to getting the help that keeps people healthy and more able to work.
“The Biden budget is a clear demonstration that the right wing is wrong. It is possible to invest in growth in every part of our nation – rural and urban, heartland and coast – and still reduce the deficit. It is possible to make progress to increase opportunities and reduce disparities across racial and ethnic lines, by increasing jobs in health and care work, renewable energy, renewing infrastructure, and more. The Biden budget recognizes not only that these investments are possible – they are necessary for the shared growth that builds our future.
“As Congress works on its own spending plans, the Coalition on Human Needs will work to protect against cutbacks and advance the priorities of shared prosperity, reducing the number of people who cannot meet their basic needs of housing, food, health care, fair work and adequate income, increasing opportunities in communities across the U.S., and protecting against disinvestment and inequities by race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, and immigrant status. We can afford these priorities by making savings, such as eliminating excessive payments to Pentagon contractors and drug companies. And, as the Biden budget demonstrates, we can afford to invest in our future by increasing taxes on the rich and corporations, who have evaded their fair share for far too long.”