By Mike Lillis - 09/02/11 07:13 PM EDT
A leading House Democrat introduced legislation Friday requiring the newly formed debt supercommittee to prioritize job creation as it seeks more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction.
Rep. John Larson (Conn.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said the panel's sole focus on slashing deficits not only ignores the lingering jobs crisis, but threatens to make it worse by cutting programs that provide local jobs.
“The supercommittee, with its deadlines and triggers, has a unique opportunity to overcome the recent gridlock in Congress to make that happen.”
Created this month as part of the legislative package hiking the debt ceiling, the 12-member bipartisan supercommittee is charged with identifying at least $1.5 trillion in deficit-reduction provisions before Thanksgiving.
Larson's strategy offers several different avenues for making job creation a part of the process. One proposal would force the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to develop a job-creation plan that parallels its deficit-slashing strategy.
A second proposal would add four new members to the supercommittee to allow the panel to broaden its focus to include jobs, while a third proposal would establish a separate committee altogether — the Joint Select Committee on Job Creation — to operate alongside the deficit panel.
The triggers and deadlines currently applicable to the deficit-reduction panel would also apply to the job-creation effort, forcing Congress to tackle the issue.
“Amending the existing law to incorporate economic growth and job creation, and subjecting them to the same deadlines and a trigger, would restore confidence to the American public and global markets and show that we can come together to get America back to work and grow our economy,” Larson said.
The proposals have a rocky future, as Republicans in the House majority are opposed to any new stimulus spending as a solution to the jobs crisis. Instead, GOP leaders maintain that the spending cuts themselves will empower the private sector to make new hires.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has even said that some government jobs are expendable.
“Over the last two years since President Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,” Boehner said earlier in the year. “And if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it.”