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Congressional Black Caucus Presents Alternate Budget

Barrington M. Salmon | 3/20/2013, 10:18 a.m.

Organization Contends Their Version is a Sharp Contrast to Ryan's

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) presented an alternative budget for the 2013 fiscal year that they said slashes deficits, eliminates the sequester and protects those programs which are safety nets for the most vulnerable.

"Since 1981, the CBC has presented alternate budgets which lowers deficits and alleviates harm in a fiscally sound manner," said CBC Chairman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). "I do not believe we should sacrifice the community to balance the budget."

"I'm extremely proud of this budget. I think it's the best one offered so far."

Fudge was joined by Reps. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) in a media conference call on Friday, March 15. Each criticized the budget released recently by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan because of its over-reliance on savaging Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while calling for even greater cuts to taxes for the richest Americans.

"There are different priorities between us and the Republicans," said Scott. "I wouldn't call what the Republicans produced a budget. It's a document. We use a pre-sequester baseline and parts of our budget eliminates the sequester ... there is $500 billion invested to accelerate the nation's economic recovery, we restore cuts to education, there's 10 years of deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion. We spent money in different ways and exceeded Simpson-Bowles by $400 million."

Simpson-Bowles refers to a commission brought together by President Barack Obama to find a recipe of spending cuts and revenue to balance the budget.

Scott explained that Congress has already implemented $2.4 trillion in tax cuts, adding that $1.6 trillion in cuts is needed to put the country on a sustainable path. He said the CBC taskforce found $4 trillion in cuts by focusing on closing corporate loopholes and special interest benefits, noting that "a lot more could have been found."

This is budget season in the nation's capital with both political parties, as well as Obama, the CBC, the Progressive Caucus and a range of other entities and groups putting forward their version of what the budget should look like. Ryan put forward one blueprint, as did Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). And if the elements of the debate seem familiar, it is because Democrats and Republicans have been fighting this battle for a while now. At issue is what constitutes the government's responsibilities to its people as far as the budget goes, the scope of government and curbing spending and reducing deficits.

The budget debate is occurring against the backdrop of the debt ceiling, the sequester which is $85 billion in arbitrary across-the-board cuts to defense and domestic programs and other budget issues. Both Democrats and Republicans are entangled in often rancorous debates about the appropriate way forward.

"It's a fascinating document ... and it's a formula we've worked on for years," said Clyburn, about one section of the budget that calls for a national strategy to eliminate poverty by 50 percent in the next 10 years. "This budget will go into effect on Oct. 1. The budget will go into effect when the sequester ends."