CHICAGO, JUNE 17 -- A key policy committee of U.S. mayors today approved a broad, costly domestic agenda that asks Congress to repeal the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction law and cut Social Security taxes for nearly 120 million workers.
The more than 70 resolutions approved by the committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors contain repeated pleas for a multibillion-dollar infusion of federal funds for anti-drug, housing, education and anti-poverty programs.
The resolutions will go before the full conference of more than 200 mayors Wednesday. But the panel's decisions are rarely changed significantly in such votes, which set the lobbying agenda for the organization's Washington staff.
The mayors, who have spent much of the first three days of their six-day annual meeting criticizing the federal government for slashing aid to cities, said repealing Gramm-Rudman-Hollings would force lawmakers to confront the deficit.
Under the law, automatic spending cuts take effect if Congress and the White House do not meet specified deficit-reduction targets. The mayors complained that city-level services are the first to feel the automatic cuts.
"It has the effect of putting cities and towns, urban programs, first on the chopping block," said Mayor John K. Bullard (D) of New Bedford, Mass.
"The mayors across this nation have got to say this is a charade," said Mayor Lee Robinson (D) of Macon, Ga. "We've got to say enough is enough."
In calling for the Social Security payroll tax to be cut from 7.65 percent to 6.71 percent, the mayors' panel also called on Congress to remove the cap on outside earnings of Social Security recipients and stop using the balance in the Social Security trust fund to mask the true size of the federal deficit.
Also included in one tax-related resolution approved today was a statement opposing a capital gains tax cut favored by President Bush.