There is no question which approach the American people support. A Gallup poll released this week found that 72 percent of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support putting people back to work repairing our infrastructure. The same percentage supports investment to create jobs.
We’re not afraid of the contrasts our budget suggests with conservative ideology. Instead of closing the Department of Education, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called for at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week, we believe in building schools and putting more teachers on the job. Instead of continued tax breaks for large corporations, such as the $112 billion we will give away to wealthy fossil fuel companies in the next decade, we end preferential treatment for perks like corporate jets and put the money back into job creation for the American people.
Two years ago, Rep. Ryan’s blueprint was greeted with cheers by conservative activists and considerable deference by the pundits. This year, his plan is being treated as what it is: a radical transformation of the American experience. If he got his way, Medicaid would wither, Medicare as we know it would cease to exist, and the decades of progress we’ve made in fighting hunger and poverty would be wiped out.
We agree with the American people who made their preference known in November: we can do better. The right-wing myth of makers and takers has had a pernicious effect on our politics and will take some time to fade away. In the meantime, we need to get our national conversation back on track. It’s time for a serious effort to get America working again.
The House Republican majority didn’t pass our budget in last Wednesday’s vote, but after two years of ignoring the jobs crisis, we hope our plan starts a new conversation that can continue past budget season. All we’ve heard from Republicans is the same exhausted line about cutting everything in sight, retrenching, reining in the American dream, and foreclosing on any positive government role in our nation’s future. It’s time for jobs to be the priority for Washington that it already is for the American people.
Grijalva and Ellison are co-chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.