Black Caucus budget ignored by media
Jim Naureckas
Reprinted from Extra! July/August 1995

Establishment media outlets are generally cheerleaders for balancing the budget--at least when the corporations that own and sponsor them aren't going to bear any of the pain. Time magazine's special report on "The Budget Revolution" (5/22/95) is a case in point. The magazine sings hosannas to the Republican budget plans: "The tough choices are on the table, and it's about time," the cover declares. "Beyond the Pain, a Revival of the American Dream," a sidebar promises. One of Time's key points is that "public opinion seems to be swinging behind the budget cutters." Balancing the budget "will mean...cutting programs that affect virtually every American citizen," the magazine says. "But surprise of surprises: People want it that way." You might be surprised after reading this hype that Time's own polling figures don't show much support for the Republican plan at all. True, the 47 percent who support "cutting popular programs" is bigger than the 36 percent who would rather "continue to run large deficits." But it's clear that the specifics of the Republican plans are intensely unpopular. Both the House and Senate plans get most of their savings from deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid; 81 percent of Time's respondents said it was important to prevent significant cuts in Medicare, and 71 percent said the same thing of Medicaid. Seventy-seven percent oppose the House proposal to eliminate the Department of Education. A slight majority did support cutting military spending--but the House Republicans actually want to increase the Pentagon's budget.

What if there was a plan to balance the budget that didn't involve slashing Medicare and Medicaid? What if the budget included increases for education, job training and other programs that help so many people? Wouldn't that plan be wildly popular? There was such a plan and you probably haven't heard much about it. The Congressional Black Caucus submitted a plan that projects a balanced budget for 2002, just as the Republican plans do. By closing corporate tax loopholes--bringing the corporate tax rate up near what it was in the 1950s--the Black Caucus largely avoids the devastating cuts targeted on the elderly and poor that other plans call for. The Black Caucus budget was almost entirely ignored in the media budget debate, with only a handful of references to it in the Nexis database. Could that be because Time Warner and all the other corporations that own news outlets would have to pay significantly higher taxes? Just asking.

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