A supercommittee that focuses on jobs? Not so fast.
Democratic Rep. John Larson of Connecticut plans to push the supercommittee that was appointed as part of the deficit-reduction deal to come up with a plan to create jobs. My colleague Greg Sargent has the scoop:
Larson and other senior Dems are also gravitating towards several new proposals to get the current super-committee to adopt job creation as a core mission, along with deficit reduction. This basic idea already has broad support among Congressional Dems.
Larson and Dems plan to introduce several proposals next week along these lines to amend the current law creating the super-committee — and they will ask Congress to pick from among them. One proposal would simply amend the super-committee’s current mission to include job creation. The second would ask each of the four Congressional leaders to appoint one more person to the committee, bringing its membership to 16 — and create a sub-committee on job creation that would produce a jobs proposal as part of the final deficit reduction package.
Here’s the interesting part: Both those proposals would require that the “trigger” also kick in if the committee fails to agree on a jobs proposal as part of the overall deficit deal. And both would set a clear goal: The proposal has to represent a credible effort to bring unemployment down to 5.5 percent by 2014. If the committee can’t pass such a proposal, the “trigger,” which contains defense and non-defense cuts to discourage the committee from failing, gets pulled.
Can a proposal like this gain steam on the Hill? Larson says the measure will “call [Republicans’] bluff” on job creation. If Republicans don’t endorse the plan, Sargent writes, they “will be saying No to the very idea that Congress should make active proposals to reduce unemployment to a targeted rate a core mission.”
That’s not exactly how Congressional Republicans will see it or spin it. I ran Larson’s proposal by House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office on Friday afternoon, and it was immediately shot down. The response: Deficit reduction will spur job creation and, therefore, the supercommittee does not need to take on an additional mission.
“As every economist and every rating agency has made clear, getting our deficit under control is the first step to help get our economy growing again and to create jobs,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for Boehner. “Without knowing the specifics of this proposal, my concern would be this is some sort of new window-dressing for the same tired old, discredited Washington stimulus spending proposals.”
Larson’s proposal may gain some initial legs. But whether it wins enough Republican support to become part of the supercommittee’s work remains a pretty big unknown.