By U.S. Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.)
A nation’s budget is a document that reflects its priorities. While President Trump has yet to submit his first budget to Congress, we are already learning what will likely be in it. The President has proposed a $54 billion increase in military spending, which would be offset with deep cuts to programs that support education, rebuild our infrastructure, ensure clean air and water, and protect workplace safety and public health. On top of that, the President has called for massive tax cuts that would primarily benefit the wealthiest among us and put the nation’s finances deeper in the red.
During the contentious 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump called for a “new deal” for Black America. And in an unwieldy press conference just a few weeks ago, the President again mentioned his desire to propose policies that will help and uplift Black America. Unfortunately, we have yet to see any detailed proposal from the White House, and based on what we’re already learning about his first budget, Americans of all races, colors and creeds should be concerned.
If the President is serious about improving the lives of African Americans, he need only look to the Conscience of the Congress: The Congressional Black Caucus. The CBC has been fighting for neglected and underrepresented Americans since its inception in 1971. And for more than three decades, the CBC has developed its own federal budget alternative that is often credited as being fiscally and morally responsible. The CBC has proposed its own budget regardless of who occupies the White House or which party controls Congress. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget cycle is no different.
For the last decade, I have had the privilege to lead the development of the CBC budget and CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond has asked me to do so again this year. I am proud to report that the Congressional Black Caucus is again proposing a bold, fiscally responsible budget that should serve as a guiding post for meaningful solutions that will move the Black community and the rest of the nation forward.
First, the CBC budget proposes a fairer and more progressive tax code in order to meet the critical needs of the nation. The CBC budget calls for $3.9 trillion in revenue enhancements over ten years and proposes repealing many tax provisions that favor the richest of the rich. With this additional revenue, the CBC proposes a $1 trillion investment over the next decade to rebuild our nation’s failing infrastructure and revitalize historically underserved communities, while employing millions of hardworking Americans in desperate need of job opportunities.
The CBC budget also calls for protecting and strengthening the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to ensure universal health care for all Americans. In fact, the CBC budget proposes the creation of a public health insurance option in the ACA health insurance exchanges, which has scored as a cost savings for the American taxpayer – saving an estimated $121 billion over 10 years. In addition, to help support and advance working families, the CBC budget calls for a $250 billion investment in the education system over the next decade to revitalize public schools, bolster Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and make higher education more affordable.
Lastly, the CBC budget protects programs that are vital pathways out of poverty and into the middle class by investing $300 billion over ten years in social safety net programs that ensure all families have access to healthy food, safe housing, affordable childcare, and a secure retirement. And at the end of the day, the CBC budget actually improves the nation’s fiscal situation by reducing the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade.
The Congressional Black Caucus will continue to fight for the needs of African Americans and other neglected and underrepresented Americans by proposing and advancing bold solutions to move our communities forward. We hope that President Trump and our colleagues in Congress will consider our budget as the right fiscal path for our nation.
U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott represents Virginia’s 3rd congressional district. In Congress, he serves as the Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Follow him on Twitter at @BobbyScott.