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Friday, October 19, 2018

Washington politicos aren’t quite right when they say that federal budget proposals are “dead on arrival.”

Even if they don’t become law, budgets stand as living, breathing testimonies of the values and priorities of the people who write them.

And it may surprise you that the budget proposal that’s most likely to line up with your own values is also the one that’s most dismissed as “dead on arrival.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ “Better Off Budget,” unveiled in March, is getting far less attention than the budget House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a few weeks later.

Ryan became a 2012 Republican vice-presidential candidate thanks to his rhetoric that promised to tame federal spending and stimulate the economy. But his “Path to Prosperity” plans have been broadly dismissed as strikingly out of touch with how the real world works and what real people want.

While the Better Off Budget stakes out the left flank of the budget debate, it’s far from radical. It follows the basic prescription that an economy still recovering from a devastating recession needs a push from government to boost economic demand. That means taking actions that will put people back to work quickly and allow people to have money in their pockets.

Its policies would support the creation of up to 9 million new jobs over the next three years, according to the Economic Policy Institute. That would close the gap between where the job market is today and where it would have been had the misguided economic policies of the 1990s and 2000s not set the stage for the Great Recession.

The Ryan budget, on the other hand, wouldn’t increase federal spending on job creation efforts by one dime. In fact, by making spending cuts that would slow economic growth, enacting the Ryan budget would cost the economy 3 million jobs over the next two years, the Economic Policy Institute says.

Plus, the tax cuts Ryan’s budget would lavish on the wealthiest Americans average $200,000, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, while many programs that millions of middle-class and low-income Americans rely on would be cut dramatically.

The cost of the Better Off Budget would be covered by asking the wealthiest among us to sacrifice the loopholes and dodges that allow the rich to pay taxes at lower rates than the people who work for them. These tax breaks let some of our most profitable corporations escape paying federal taxes altogether.