Senate Democrats urge Republicans to focus on jobs in 'supercommittee' talks

Nearly two dozen Senate Democrats are urging Republicans to focus on job creation in "supercommittee" deliberations. 

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell Dems push clearer GMO labeling Dems cheer Flake after scathing Trump speech MORE (D-Ore.) and 22 other Democratic senators argued job creation will reduce deficits and should play a central role in the committee's discussions.

“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 [Joint Select Committee] JSC embraces," the senators wrote in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE (R-Ky.).

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While acknowledging that reducing deficits is a must, "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," they wrote. 

"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."

So far, McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidTop Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor GOP in uncharted territory rolling back rules through resolutions MORE (D-Nev.) and Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerThe two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election White House strikes back at Bushes over legacy MORE (R-Ohio) have made their appointments to the 12-member panel that will aim to reduce the deficits by $1.5 trillion. The three remaining picks belong to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

The supercommittee’s recommendations must be reported out by Nov. 23 and voted up or down in the House and Senate by Dec. 23. 

“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," the letter from the senators stated. "Indeed, the loss of revenue resulting from the recession accounts for nearly $4 trillion of the projected deficits over the next 10 years.”

In the letter, the senators said that during the past decade, revenues have declined by 18 percent, while domestic discretionary spending remained static. They argue rising deficits are largely attributable to lost revenues caused by the financial crisis, the recession and the high unemployment that followed. 

"Jobless workers put additional strain on our critical social safety net programs," they wrote. "As more and more Americans rely on unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicaid, our deficits go up." 

They also argue that the debt-limit debate didn't include enough discussion of the effects of the recession on the economy, especially on the jobs front.

"Getting those individuals back to work not only allows them to be self-sufficient, it reduces federal government spending," the letter stated. 

Earlier this week, Rep. John Larson (Conn.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, sent a letter to House members arguing to amend the recently passed debt-limit package to establish a joint select committee on job creation to operate alongside the already mandated Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. 

In a "Dear Colleague" letter, Larson argued that the nation's jobs crisis is only exacerbating its long-term fiscal problems and therefore demands Congress's immediate attention.

"This high unemployment poses a very real short-term fiscal crisis, because it drains the federal coffers through increased government spending and reduced tax revenues," Larson wrote in the Aug. 8 letter.

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