A top House Democrat says that if Congress is serious about tackling the country’s debt and jobs crises, one supercommittee isn’t enough.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.), the chamber’s No. 4 Democrat, is calling for the formation of a second joint committee – this one devoted solely to the issue of job creation.
“If not addressed, I believe the social costs of unemployment will dramatically damage the United States’ status in the world and prevent us from emerging from this recession,” Larson wrote in a letter circulated to members this week.
“This is why I ask that you join me in immediately injecting ‘Job Creation’ into the deficit talks occurring in Washington. Specifically, I plan to introduce legislation that would establish a Joint Select Committee on Job Creation that would be tasked, under the exact same terms as the Deficit Committee, with developing a plan to return the nation to full employment by 2021.”
The formation of a jobs supercommittee, Larson argues, “would allow the Congress to simultaneously consider both our near-term (high unemployment) and our long-term (growing debt) challenges later this year.”
In his letter to colleagues, the Connecticut Democrat notes that since the debt-ceiling debate began in mid-May, 300,000 more Americans have lost their jobs and 14 million Americans are unemployed. The high unemployment level poses its own short-term fiscal crisis, Larson says, since it “drains the federal coffers through increased government spending and reduced tax revenues.”
When Congress returns from recess in September, Larson plans to introduce a measure to amend the debt-ceiling deal to require a 12-member bipartisan committee focused solely on creating a jobs plan.
Such a proposal is not likely to gain traction among Republicans, who have argued that the best way to address the nation’s high unemployment is to cut spending and reduce regulation – two goals Republicans hope to achieve in the bipartisan debt supercommittee.
“I believe that America’s jobs crisis has been compounded by the Obama Administration’s anti-business, hyper-regulatory, pro-tax increase agenda – which has led to dangerous uncertainty in our economy,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) argued in a memo to House Republicans this week. “While much of our time this Congress has been focused on the former, it is the latter that is most directly and dramatically impacting the lives of individuals, families and small businesses throughout this country.”