The Congressional Black Caucus this week continued its tradition of releasing an alternative budget – something the caucus says its done nearly every year since 1981.
The CBC Fiscal Year 2012 budget restores some of the cuts to funding proposed by President Barack Obama–particularly the cuts that hurt poor people and people of color. Programs like the heating assistance program, community development grants, and Pell grants would all see their funds returned to current levels. It would also increase funding to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund.
Crediting “tough, responsible decisions,” which include allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire, and increasing other tax-based revenue, the CBC claims its budget will save $5.7 trillion on the deficit.
“We just want to put our priorities out there,” says Brandon Garrett, policy director of the CBC. The caucus uses “the same methods and numbers” as other Democrat and Republican groups while putting together its budget, although its claims haven’t been evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office.
Garrett says the CBC budget differs from the Democrat budget because it focuses mainly on issues that members of the caucus consider priorities.
“We just talked to all the members, and asked them what they wanted to see. We craft our budget based on the needs of our members and our other constituencies.” Garrett says, adding that districts with largely black populations that aren’t represented by a CBC member – such as Tennessee’s 9th District, which is 60 percent black and represented by Steve Cohen – are also considered.