As I noted yesterday, some top Democrats on the deficit supercommittee have informally discussed Senator Jeff Merkley’s demand that the deficit supercommittee agree to seek an independent evaluation of how its proposals would impact jobs. But they haven’t said whether they’ll support the propsal, either publicly or privately.
Now, however, the pressure may increase on them to take a stand on the idea — because two of the nation’s top labor leaders are throwing their weight behind the plan.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and AFSCME chief Gerald McEntee are now joining the call for the supercommittee, and members of Congress in general, to embrace Merkley’s plan. It would require that the supercommittee submit its individual proposals to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office for an evaluation of the impact they would have on unemployment and the labor market.
The idea is to get supercommittee members to at least think about how its proposals would impact jobs, and require them to submit their conclusions along those lines to an independent analysis.
Again, the chances remain slim that this idea will ever be adopted. But an endorsement of it by leading labor leaders could at least earn it a bit of media attention and perhaps get reporters to ask supercommittee members and Congressional leaders whether they support it, and if they oppose it, to explain why.
AFL-CIO sends over this statement from Trumka:
“Senator Merkley’s plan is the kind of common sense initiative that is too rare in Congress. We are in the middle of a jobs crisis and the last thing we should be doing is passing legislation that kills jobs. Senator Merkley’s amendment would help the Super Committee avoid proposals that kill jobs. We strongly urge all elected representatives of both parties to support this effort.”
And AFSCME sends over this statement from McEntee:
“As the Super Committee embraces their charge to reduce the deficit by more than a trillion dollars, we urge them to embrace Senator Merkley’s proposal to report the jobs impact of their decisions. The Super Committee should focus on doing what’s right and get our country back to work. No more political gamesmanship that leaves struggling families out in the cold yet again. Investing in job creation is the surest path to an economic recovery that works for everyone, not just CEOs and huge corporations. Congress must put aside political differences and begin the real work of the nation.”
Republicans can be expected to oppose this idea, because they haven’t been all that interested lately in what the CBO has to say about the relationship between austerity and job creation. But you’d think it would be a no-brainer for Dems to support it. After all, they keep telling us they are looking for ways to ensure that jobs remain at least part of the conversation as the supercommittee turns to the work of deficit reduction.
This proposal would offer a framework for that to happen, but crucially, it would not put any limitations of any kind on the supercommittee proposals themselves, and it would not even require anything in the way of job creation policy. It would merely require the supercommittee to have more information at their disposal in terms of how its deficit proposals impact the jobs picture. As Ezra Klein noted, this should be a step that’s just small enough for the supercommittee to adopt. It would be a small step, but a step in the right direction.