White Houses decries ‘deficit anxiety’

White House adviser John Podesta called on Congress to set its “deficit anxiety” to the side and spend more money to repair the economy.

In an op-ed, the adviser to President Obama said lawmakers should “ditch the sequester” and embrace policies geared to growing the economy.

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“Deficit angst makes it all too easy for policymakers to ignore the fact that we still need to do more to repair the damage from the Great Recession, to grow wages and help middle-class families feel secure, and to invest in the future,” Podesta wrote in The Washington Post. “This approach isn’t fiscally reckless; indeed, it’s the only serious way to further improve our economy today and strengthen our balance sheet in the future.”

Podesta said the mandatory spending cuts known as the sequester had “utterly failed at its ostensible purpose — to urge Congress toward bipartisan compromise.”

“The across-the-board budget cuts in the sequester are the wrong way to reduce spending, hitting valuable programs as hard as ineffective ones, and make it more difficult to fund strategic, job-creating investments in education, infrastructure, research and development, and clean energy,” Podesta said.

The White House is increasing its calls to get rid of the sequester and touting President Obama’s handling of the economy. A jobs report last week highlighted more growth in the economy, bolstering the administration’s public appeal.

Previous calls by the White House to step up investments in education and infrastructure spending have been ignored by Republicans in Congress, however. The GOP has control of the House and hopes to take over the Senate following next month’s elections.

Obama also called on lawmakers to repeal sequestration during a rare visit to the Pentagon earlier this week.

That the White House is repeatedly highlighting the issue suggests Obama could be digging in ahead of the next round of budget negotiations in the lame-duck Congress.

In his op-ed, Podesta also argued that other presidential priorities, from infrastructure spending to immigration reform, would be worthwhile investments for the federal government.

“Our fiscal policies fall short when they don’t serve to build a strong economy for the middle class, when they fail to invest in young people and U.S. workers, when they can’t imagine a future for the social safety net beyond shredding it,” Podesta said.