The Progressive Caucus’ Budget Invests Where It Matters

Earlier this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a budget proposal that would undermine America’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness by slashing critical investments in education, science and technology, and infrastructure. If Ryan’s budget is an example of what not to do, the budget (PDF) proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus is a great example of a budget that invests in America’s future growth and global competitiveness. Instead of making deep cuts to education and training, scientific research, and transportation infrastructure, the CPC “Back to Work” budget would actually boost our investments in these key areas.

As my colleague Adam Hersh and I have written, public investments in things like roads, schools, and new scientific research are essential for job creation and economic growth because they improve productivity and earnings, create efficient and low-cost transportation and energy system, and lead to groundbreaking technological innovations. Ideally, the amount we spend per capita on these investments should increase over time – at a minimum, investments should keep up with inflation and population growth.

Let’s take a look at how the two budgets treat three key areas of investment: research and development for science and technology; transportation infrastructure; and education and training:

In the past decade, each year we spent on average of $95 per capita on science and technology research. While Ryan’s budget would cut that number down to $81, the CPC budget would have us boost our investment to $106 per capita. This is especially important because federal investments in science and technology have been declining since the 1970s.

When it comes to investments in transportation infrastructure, Ryan’s budget would bring our spending down to $227 per person compared to the $284 we spent per person each year from 2004-2013. The CPC budget proposes to make big investments in job creation by putting Americans to work repairing our decrepit roads and bridges – boosting spending to $559 per person each year. These investments are desperately needed – according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our infrastructure report card grade is a “D.”

On education and workforce development, Ryan would slash spending to just $247 per person, compared with the $348 per person we spent annually over the past decade. Again, the CPC budget thinks long term and increases our investment to $497, ensuring that more Americans are able to gain the skills they need to get good jobs. These investments are crucial if we want to keep up with our international competitors. Consider: According to a CAP analysis, In 2007 China surpassed the United States in their annual number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, graduates. And by 2030 China will have more college graduates than the entire U.S. workforce.

We already know that the Ryan budget would hinder our economic recovery in the short term. What’s just as bad is that it would damage our ability to innovate and compete globally for years to come. The CPC budget proposal avoids this mistake, and continues to make the investments that economists agree are necessary to create long-term growth.

Our guest blogger is Sarah Ayres, a Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.