Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Congressional Republicans Have Found New Talking Points on Poverty and Inequality, But Will Their Budget Reality Match Their Rhetoric?
Press Release

New CAP analysis singles out key policies to look for in House and Senate budgets to test their sincerity on boosting opportunity and expanding the middle class.

Washington, D.C. — Now more than ever, congressional Republicans are speaking publicly about the need to combat inequality and reduce poverty. With House and Senate fiscal year 2016 budgets scheduled for release next week, a new Center for American Progress column outlines five key priorities to look for in the budgets that will show whether congressional leaders are serious about addressing poverty and growing the middle class.

“Conservatives are highlighting the urgent need to address income inequality—but the real test of this newfound focus will be the priorities laid out in the House and Senate budget proposals,” said Melissa Boteach, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity program at American Progress. “The budget release is an opportunity for congressional leaders to outline their priorities for growing the economy and providing pathways to the middle class. Tested ways to accomplish that include investing in infrastructure, education, and research and enacting policies such as raising the minimum wage—and it’s these policies, among others, that we hope to see in the budgets next week.”

“The House Republican budgets from recent years were a blueprint for exacerbating poverty and inequality. But this year, conservatives are singing a different tune,” said Rebecca Vallas, policy director of the Poverty to Prosperity program. “The House and Senate budgets next week will be a test of whether congressional leaders are serious about boosting opportunity and growing the middle class.”

“In the past, the conservative recipe for boosting the middle class has meant big tax breaks for the wealthy, cuts to vital health and nutrition programs, and draconian caps on programs that serve working Americans, such as job training, child care, and early education,” said Anna Chu, director of CAP’s Middle-Out economics program. “Creating good jobs, ensuring an adequate safety net, and investing in human capital are the real drivers of middle-class growth.”

To see whether the House and Senate Majority are serious about expanding opportunity and strengthening the middle class, look for the following priorities in their FY 2016 budgets:

  • Creating good jobs, including support for investments in infrastructure, education, and research and support for policies that set up pathways to good jobs
  • Boosting wages, including raising the national minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour
  • Ensuring an adequate safety net by protecting key investments such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and Medicaid, as well as bolstering our system of work and income supports
  • Adopting work-family policies such as paid family leave and creating incentives for states to enact paid sick days legislation
  • Investing in human capital by expanding access to child care, high-quality early education, and higher education

Click here to read “Testing Congressional Republicans’ Sincerity About Tackling Inequality” by Melissa Boteach, Rebecca Vallas, and Anna Chu.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at [email protected] or 202.478.6331.