As a member of the President’s Fiscal Commission, my task is to put forward a responsible plan to reduce the deficit and balance the primary budget by 2015 while ensuring that the economic needs of my constituents and the American people are met. Because of that responsibility, I cannot endorse the plan laid out last week by co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Their plan asks those who are suffering the most from the current economic downturn to sacrifice even further.
We must remember that the goal of fixing the deficit is not an end in itself. Economic policy does not exist in a vacuum, the federal budget represents our shared priorities as a nation, those things we all believe we need to do together. We also need to remember that the deficit was caused by two wars that weren’t paid for, and a massive tax cut that benefitted mainly the wealthiest Americans.
That is why I’ve released my own plan (Click Here for the details), because we can achieve sound fiscal policy without doing it on the backs of poor and middle class Americans. Long-term economic growth requires that we put a stop to the troubling trend of concentrating more wealth in the hands of the rich and less in the hands of a middle class.
Here is what my colleague in the House, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, had to say :““From large elements to small, this plan is a vast improvement over the Bowles-Simpson proposal and represents a more thoughtful approach to debt reduction. Our middle and lower class families did not cause our current budget shortfalls – they were largely caused by the avoidable housing crisis, by irresponsible Bush-era wars paid for with borrowed money, and by unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthiest earners. Rep. Schakowsky’s plan reflects the fact that, as she has said so often, the sacrifices of the past several years have all been made by the middle class. It’s time we stopped telling these hard-working families to tighten their belts again for the sake of another millionaire tax cut. We need to bring our taxing and spending in line with reality, and her proposal is a big step in the right direction.”
Think Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, also weighed in: “"Rep. Schakowsky's Deficit Reduction Plan should be given as much consideration as the Bowles-Simpson proposal... She's shown that there is a way to balance the budget while simultaneously protecting the middle class and making important investments, and she should be commended."
My proposals aim to bring the federal deficit under control using policies that will put people to work and strengthen the middle class.