October’s temporary budget deal narrowly averted a government shutdown and first-ever US default. But we are not out of the woods from the disastrous “austerity” politics that have plagued Washington—and the country— since passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA) in 2011.
Although the deal lifts Budget Control Act “caps” for two years by $80 billion, this is not enough to restore the 14% cuts to domestic programs since 2010. Deeper “sequester” cuts mandated by the 10 year BCA kick in again in 2017. And unfortunately, this budget still allocates more than 50% of discretionary spending to the Pentagon, including a $33 billion increase in FY2016.
Meanwhile, Tea Party forces are still threatening to hold up spending bills and risk a government shutdown by Dec. 11, by demanding that Congress adopt destructive “riders” creating a host of restrictions in areas such as environment, labor, Syrian refugees, consumer finance and health protections.
Peace Action has joined with a coalition of national organizations in a People’s Budget Campaign to say “No” to austerity and “Yes” to a People’s Budget, as proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Our immediate goal is to pass “clean” appropriations bills without damaging policy riders in order to avoid the risk of another devastating government shutdown.
In the long term we want to build support for a budget that truly invests in the well-being of our people and cuts unnecessary defense spending. That budget is the “People’s Budget” which will be filed again this March by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.