Sunday, April 24, 2011
Black Caucus Overwhelmingly Supports “People’s Budget”
by Glen Ford
When the enemy convinces us that his victory is inevitable, then he has already won the psychological war. Wall Street, which owns the White House, most of both Houses of Congress and, quite literally, the corporate media, is in a mad rush to save itself from its own contradictions by dismantling or privatizing much of the government, while cutting taxes for its own class to the bone. At the same time, under the canard of national defense, the U.S. military spends as much as the rest of the world combined to bring the entire planet under the Pentagon’s full spectrum dominance. The ever-expanding war budget is justified on national security grounds, while the destruction of the domestic social safety net is supposedly unavoidable because…well, because the government is broke.
Of course, banks and other corporations are not broke; they’re doing better than ever. And the rich are richer than at any time in history. They are the ones demanding austerity, and expect their demands are to be treated as law, like stone tablets delivered by Moses from the hands of God.
Obama and the Republicans sing variations on the same song: Surrender to the Inevitable. For Black America, which is being pushed back to pre-civil rights era levels of income and wealth disparity, surrender is no option. Thus, it was encouraging that overwhelming numbers of the Congressional Black Caucus voted in favor of a so-called “People’s Budget” that shows, in dollars and cents, that the Republican and Obama agenda is not inevitable, that the budget deficits can become surpluses by the year 2021 while saving social programs.
The government is only broke because the rich pay so little and the military costs so much. The government is only broke because the rich pay so little and the military costs so much. The People’s Budget, put together by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, raises tax rates on the rich and increases government revenues by $4 trillion over ten years. It shuts down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and does not budget money for any more such wars, and thus saves $2.3 trillion from the black hole of the Pentagon. That’s all it take for the government not to be broke anymore.
Of the 77 congresspersons that voted for the People’s Budget, 34 – almost half – were Black. Only four Black lawmakers voted against the People’s Budget, so let’s call out their names in shame: Sanford Bishop, the Black Blue Dog from Georgia, who is always at the far right of the Caucus, as is fellow Georgian David Scott. Al Green, from Texas, has also surrendered to the rich man’s psychological warfare. Bobby Scott, from Virginia, is usually among the more progressive Caucus members, but now appears to be adrift. Two Black Caucus members didn’t vote either way: New York’s Gregory Meeks has served as a bag man for the corporatist Democratic Leadership Council; there’s nothing progressive about him. And Congresswoman Terri Sewell, of Alabama, is a newcomer.
The 77 supporters of the People’s Budget were outnumbered by the 108 Democrats that voted with the GOP and Obama’s side of the party. But they did show that not everyone believes that resistance is futile, even if a Black president tells them so.
© 2011 Black Agenda Report
Back Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.