Back in 2010, House Speaker John Boehner famously repeated it over and over again: “Where are the jobs?”
“Where are the jobs” Mr. President? Over and over it was Boehner, who was then the House Majority Leader, repeating this mantra. But now, only two years later, it’s all about one word: Cuts.
There is almost no talk of job creation from the GOP in Congress. And even more interesting, the House GOP Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan (R-WI), includes cutting the jobs of federal employees as well as their pensions. Paradoxically, it was Ryan who voted in favor to bail out banks with American tax money to the tune of $800 billion dollars as well as vote for every continuing resolution for two unfunded wars over ten years time — a $1.2 trillion dollar expenditure.
“In total we have almost $500 billion job creation built into our budget,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge said on the House floor. That allocation is predicted to create about 5 to 10 million jobs. Further, a budget offered by members of the Progressive Caucus (The Back to Work Budget), a Caucus many Black Caucus members are a part of, doubles the amount for job related funding to a jaw dropping $1 trillion. This includes money for job training, money for states to hire law enforcement and teachers and a job corp program.
With Black unemployment at 13.8% and youth unemployment near 40%, money for summer jobs is also allocated in both budgets.
It’s likely that the Black Caucus Budget and the Progressive Budget will both have more money for job creation related initiatives than the President’s Budget which will be released on April 9.
The focus on jobs, job creation and training are not focused on in the Republican budgets — instead, their most repeated words are “cuts” and “balance.” Many current job training programs suffer from being under-funded — even with 15 million Americans who are under-employed or jobless.
“This is a document that can balance the budget in ten years,” Rep. Paul Ryan told reporters. But Ryan’s proposal doesn’t demonstrate exactly how his budget balances and fails to show the exact math on how he arrives at a “surplus by 2o23.”
“Vague numbers, numbers that don’t add up and numbers that don’t give you a clue as to where they’re going to get the money,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), the CBC’s Budget Chief, on the House floor referring to the Ryan Budget. “The budget has a reduction in tax rates that does not say how you’re going to make that revenue neutral and where you’re going to find the $4 to $5 trillion dollars in taxes needed to make it revenue neutral,” added Scott.
The CBC Budget numbers are not vague. The budget raises taxes by $2.8 trillion over 10 years on the wealthy and resets the estate tax to the level they were at during the Clinton presidency. Republicans are critical of taxing the wealthy who they call “job creators.”
UNSPECIFIED MANDATORY SPENDING? Many believe Ryan’s budget left out the details because to doso would reveal a massive tax increase on the middle class and “reverse Robinhood.” The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops attacked Ryan’s budget last year as “unjust” and lacking “moral criteria” regarding cuts to the poor. But the cuts to programs that assist the poor have returned this year. Ryan’s budget uses the term “unspecified mandatory spending,” a term that refers to no specific math.
As the Republican budget goes after food stamps with 48 million people (1 in 7 Americans), living in poverty, Ryan also included tax breaks for rich people and giving states control over Medicare spending along with cuts for Pell Grants. But there would appear to be no new ideas for poverty or health care. While the GOP repeats the same policy contained in last year’s lost Presidential race, there appears to be an absence of new ideas and innovation for persistent problems. The lack of big thinking was not lost on some conservatives.
“We believe that this law is going to collapse under it’s own weight,” Ryan said of Obamacare. How he’s so certain of that is anyone’s guess. The law doesn’t take effect until next year. Further, Ryan mentioned “replacing” the current health care system but gave so specifics on what exactly he’d replace it with.
Interestingly, conservatives are criticizing Ryan’s ideas this time around and conservatives generally view including a repeal to Obamacare as a fantasy after the Supreme Court upheld the law in July of 2012.
“An Obamacare repeal, ain’t going to happen,” said James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute as reported by TPM. Pethokoukis argued that it’s “[b]etter to have shown how the ACA can be fixed.” Conservative writer Ross Douthat also wrote The Ryan Budget’s Step Backward.
“A budget is a governing vision – an opening bid – and therefore it doesn’t necessarily have to reflect political reality. But at some point Ryan is going to have to grapple with the budget challenges assuming Obamacare is not repealed,” noted conservative writer Phil Klein.
Many Democrats that so much of the thinking behind cuts over jobs and a lack of regard for the nation’s poor in a familiar refrain.
“I will never forget that Newt Gingrich said that he wanted Medicaid and Medicare to wither on the vine and that is the philosophy of these people that control this House,” added Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) as she spoke of the CBC Budget on the floor this week.
Budget week in Washington will feature votes on the House floor on five budgets.
1. the House Republican Budget — Path to Prosperity 3.0 (or the Ryan Budget)
2. the House Democratic Budget, which will be presented by Rep. Chris VanHollen (D-MD)
3. the Congressional Black Caucus Budget — The CBC Budget
4. the Progressive Caucus Budget — The Back to Work Budget
5. the Republican Study Group budget — Back to Basics Budget
Though none of the above budgets is expected to become law, they provide a crystal clear statement of priorities by party and the various factions therein.
Every year since 1981 the Congressional Black Caucus has produced an alternative budget to be considered on the floor of the House. Last year, 75 Democrats joined House Republicans and voted against the CBC Budget. It will be interesting to see which Democrats join with the GOP this year after House Whip Steny Hoyer instructed the Caucus to vote in favor of it.