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Senators Call on McConnell to Put Jobs First in “Super Committee”

August 11, 2011

Senators Call on McConnell to Put Jobs First in “Super Committee”

23 Democratic Senators urge Minority Leader to support job creating policies on Joint Select Committee

WASHINGTON – One day after Republicans in the House and Senate announced their picks for the Joint Select Committee (JSC), Senator Tom Harkin joined Democratic senators in sending a simple message to Republican lawmakers: Put jobs first.  In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 23 senators argued that spurring job growth in the short term is a vital element of reducing the deficit and should therefore be central to the new committee.  

“For families across the country, the biggest economic problem is high unemployment,” wrote the senators.  “As you know, the lack of jobs and anemic growth rate of the economy are not only enormous problems in their own right, causing great pain for millions of Americans, they are a major component of our deficit.  Indeed, the loss of revenue resulting from the recession accounts for nearly $4 trillion of the projected deficits over the next 10 years.”

“It is therefore appropriate and important that the JSC explicitly embrace job creation as a part of its mission,” they continued.  “Targeted investments in economic growth and job creation can complement and even enhance long-term deficit reduction efforts and should be a priority that the JSC embraces.

“Let us be very clear: our fiscal challenge is directly linked to the jobs crisis and we cannot solve the former without tackling the latter.”

Over the past decade, revenues have declined by 18% while domestic discretionary spending remained static on a per-capita basis. Much of this revenue was lost due to the financial crisis and the recession and high unemployment that followed.

The full text of the letter follows:

August 11, 2011

Hon. Mitch McConnell
Republican Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Leader McConnell:

Given that the single best deficit reduction strategy is economic growth, we urge you to ensure that your appointees to the new joint select committee (“JSC”) created by the debt limit bill are committed to a policy of job creation.

The recent spate of discouraging economic news underscores the need to make employment the top priority of our government.  For families across the country, the biggest economic problem is high unemployment.  As you know, the lack of jobs and anemic growth rate of the economy are not only enormous problems in their own right, causing great pain for millions of Americans, they are a major component of our deficit.  Indeed, the loss of revenue resulting from the recession accounts for nearly $4 trillion of the projected deficits over the next 10 years.

At the same time, jobless workers put additional strain on our critical social safety net programs.  As more and more Americans rely on unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicaid, our deficits go up.  Getting those individuals back to work not only allows them to be self-sufficient, it reduces federal government spending.
It is therefore appropriate and important that the JSC explicitly embrace job creation as a part of its mission.  Targeted investments in economic growth and job creation can complement and even enhance long-term deficit reduction efforts and should be a priority that the JSC embraces.  Indeed, failure to make such investments could have a serious negative impact on our fiscal situation.

Just as we can all acknowledge that reducing our deficits over the medium and long term is a national imperative, we would hope that all 100 Senators could agree that sacrificing job creation in the near term to pursue that imperative would be a grave mistake.  Over the course of the last few months, the default debate sounded to many Americans as if it was taking place in a vacuum that did not include enough discussion of the recession and its aftermath.  Let us be very clear: our fiscal challenge is directly linked to the jobs crisis and we cannot solve the former without tackling the latter.

We look forward to working with you and the Republican conference towards both objectives and hope the JSC can help advance policies that get America back to work.   

Sincerely,

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)


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