I haven’t had a chance to see President’s Obama’s full budget proposal. I’ve just seen summaries from the partisan right, who see it as another progressive wish-list tax-and-spend proposal. Progressives on the Left, like economist Robert Greenstein, a real Progressive, by the way, like the budget, especially as it relates to the Earned Income Tax Credit and new infrastructure investment. So I’m just going to give you the highlights of what I’ve seen so far.
I’m all in favor of expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and actually I would go further with it and include things like health care, so low-income workers don’t have Medicaid as their only health insurance option. They need to put money away for college, retirement, and personal savings to give their children hope for a better future. They need savings for school, K-12, for things like tutoring, child care, transportation, etc. so they can send their children to better schools and supplement their education.
So I’m glad President Obama is proposing that and also doing it for childless low-income working adults, but I guess my concern would be childless adults ending up receiving more in public assistance than low-income parents, because I don’t want to see a situation where people who are on public assistance are financially incentivized to have more children. I don’t want to see a situation where people on public assistance with children have a harder time raising them because of public assistance. The EITC should be neutral when it comes to having or not having kids.
As far as the new infrastructure investment of $300 billion over 4 years goes, that to me is a hell of a down-payment but it covers only about 30 percent of what we actually need for infrastructure investment, according to the U.S. Corps of Engineers. So I would take the $300 billion over 4 years this year and then come back in the next Congress to get the over $700 billion or so that is paid for with both proposals, putting millions of Americans in the infrastructure and manufacturing industries back to work.
President Obama seems to be making his 2015 fiscal year budget about what he and the Democratic Party want to do, which is really what he should be doing and should have been doing all along. The 2014 mid-term election year is a good place to start doing that, and we’ll see what it brings him and Democrats later this year.