The Washington Post

Supercommittee unlikely to embrace proposal for CBO `jobs’ score, aides say

Those of you who have been following this issue closely are unlikely to be surprised by this, but it bears reporting anyway.

Remember that proposal by Senator Jeff Merkley for the nonpartisan CBO to score the supercommittee’s proposals for their impact on jobs, which I reported here last week?

Well, aides to members of the supercommittee say it’s unlikely to happen — because supercommittee members don’t want to relitigate the supercommittee’s rules and mission.

The proposal was always a long shot at best, but it had some support, with top labor leaders coming out for the idea last week, and Dems on the supercommittee appearing to be at least open to the proposal But after some discussion among supercommittee members, it appears unlikely to go anywhere, an aide to a member tells me.

“There’s not an appetite to relitigate the rules of the supercommittee,” the aide says. He tells me that the prevaling sentiment on the supercommittee is that there’s a provision in the committee’s rules that already provides for evaluation of its impact on jobs.

It’s true that the supercommittee rules stipulate that its final report include “a statement by the Joint Select Committee on the possible effects of the legislation on economic growth, employment, and United States competitiveness, if practicable.”

But Merkley has been arguing to colleagues that this isn’t enough. He says we need an independent outside body to evaluate the jobs impact of each individual proposal, to separate the good ideas from the bad, and to ensure that the evaluations don’t get caught up in committee politics.

According to the aide I spoke to, however, most supercommittee members don’t agree.

“There’s a belief that we have addressed this already in the rules,” the aide says. “The desire is to move forward.” The aide stresses that the inclusion of that provision in the rules is itself proof that the committee will focus on its proposals’ jobs impact.

Merkley is undaunted — he’s circulating a letter outlining his proposal. “The Committee should adopt a `First Do No Harm’ standard,” it says, adding: “at a minimum, its recommendations should not result in any net job lobs, and ideally, that they maximize new job creation while meeting the deficit reduction goals.”

However, only 10 other Dem Senators signed the letter, only a fraction of the caucus, and no Republicans signed it.

So it looks unlikely to happen.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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