ANNAPOLIS – A team of progressive advocacy groups convened at Annapolis’ City Dock Wednesday to urge Maryland congressmen and specifically Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Md., to pass President Obama’s $3 trillion-plus budget.
Advocates said they are targeting Kratovil because the newcomer to the delegation is a Blue-dog Democrat known for challenging the president’s initiatives.
The event kicked-off the Maryland leg of the national Rebuild and Renew America Now campaign aimed at quashing markups on and garnering federal support for the president’s controversial 2010 budget, which faces heavy scrutiny on Capitol Hill this week over its record federal deficit.
Representatives from Environment Maryland, Maryland Public Interest Research Group, ACORN, Progressive Maryland and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, among others, took turns at a makeshift podium — a trash can covered with a blanket and outfitted with a microphone — to say they were more concerned with government inaction than increasing the national debt.
“Our position is that at a time of national crisis we need to listen to our top economists who have all said we face a greater threat if the federal government doesn’t act in an aggressive and effective way,” said Matthew Weinstein, federal issues director of Progressive Maryland and Maryland coordinator for Health Care for America Now.
Weinstein and others touted the president’s proposed budget as the “blueprint” for policies to make college affordable, reform an “embarrassing” health care system and improve the environment by funding clean energy and establishing a strict cap-and-trade policy for carbon emissions.
According to an analysis of the budget released Wednesday by Rebuild and Renew America Now, taxpayers would save $730 million by the proposed elimination of oil and gas subsidies; $928 million could flow into state accounts if emissions permits were capped and auctioned; 230 residents could secure their imperiled health insurance with the planned reforms; 2.1 million residents’ taxes would drop under the Make Work Pay Tax Credit; Pell Grant reform and expansion could lower the average debt of Maryland college students; and the average family would save $453 if new tax proposals were adopted.
But inflating the national debt to finance the proposals, may not be the best route forward, critics charge.
Kratovil’s short voting history — he took office in January — make the activists fret he will oppose the bill alongside Republicans, as he did for the omnibus budget bill and the first economic stimulus package before it was renegotiated in the Senate.
Kevin Lawlor, Kratovil’s spokesman, said the congressman is again poised to toe the hard line.
“This year more than ever, Congress is going to need to make some very tough choices in this budget about which priorities will do the most to get our economy back on track. Deficit reduction continues to be a major priority for Rep. Kratovil, and once the budget resolution has been finalized he will go over it with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that we’re spending our tax dollars responsibly.”