Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raul Grijalva (R-Ariz.) are the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
For just a minute, put aside what you know about the partisan makeup of Congress. While you're at it, forget about filibusters, committees, and what's considered "feasible" on Capitol Hill.
Then take a look at the deficit reduction plan (pdf) presented today by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Sure, it's not going to pass. And yes, it will be largely ignored by news organizations. But as Greg Sargent noted, the plan features popular, sensible ideas that work.
In a nutshell, it outlines three stages of deficit reduction, two of which have already happened. The first: $1.7 trillion in spending cuts Dems agreed to as part of the 2011 debt ceiling deal that ultimately led to the sequester. The second: $737 billion in new revenues that Republicans agreed to as part of the fiscal cliff deal earlier this year.
The third stage is the key to the plan. It proposes to replace the $948 billion sequester with roughly the same amount in new revenues achieved by closing loopholes and deductions enjoyed by corporations and the wealthy. That makes a total of $3.3 trillion in deficit reduction when all three stages are taken together, evenly balanced between cuts and new revenues.
Meanwhile, the plan also invests in job creation -- and pays for it by cutting defense spending. The total in defense cuts is $278 billion, which would then be plowed into infrastructure spending and other stimulus ideas in Obama's American Jobs Act.
I'd love to see a pollster put something like this to the test. Take competing deficit-reduction plans from the various players -- House Republicans, the White House, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, etc. -- and present them to survey respondents without any names or parties attached. Just have the pollster put it in the field as Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and so on.
The media and the political establishment tend to scoff at the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but is there any doubt their plan would fare very well with the American mainstream? For all the talk about the "center-right nation," is it really outrageous to think that the plan crafted by House liberals would enjoy broad public support?
What's more, the Congressional Progressive Caucus aren't relying on magical asterisks or smoke and mirrors to make their numbers add up -- it's a straightforward approach based on numbers that are fully calculator friendly.
Meanwhile, Paul Ryan is revered as a "serious" budget wonk and fiscal hawk, despite the fact that he voted for fiscally reckless policies throughout the Bush/Cheney era, and despite the fact that his budget plan for the near future is a complete fraud, based on numbers that don't add up.
But Congressional Progressive Caucus is made up of policymakers perceived as silly hippies, while Ryan is taken seriously.