Senator Jeff Merkley, as Greg Sargent has repeatedly broadcast with such enthusiasm, has a modest proposal for the Supercommittee charged with striking a deficit reduction deal:
He is calling on both parties to agree to submit every proposal offered by the supercommittee to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, to be evaluated for the impact it will have — on jobs.
He doesn’t want the CBO to evaluate the proposals just for their budgetary impact. Rather, he wants the CBO to reach a conclusion on the impact the proposals will have on unemployment, whether positive, negative, or neutral.
“We need to have every proposal that the super-committee brings out to have it scored by its jobs impact,” Merkley told me in an interview this morning. He plans to urge Democratic and GOP leaders to agree to this standard, and hopes to build a campaign to make it happen...
“We need to have a `no-harm’ standard,” Merkley says. “At a minimum, people on both sides of the aisle should be able to agree that the proposals do no harm to jobs.”
“This will keep their feet to the fire and avoid a situation where their plan drives us into a deep recession or a depression,” Merkley continues. “We must not repeat the mistakes of Europe, where austerity has driven the economy further into the ditch rather than pulling it out.”
Boehner, meanwhile, laid out his own mandate for the Supercommittee in a speech to the Economic Club of Washington. Here's the full GOP logic on spending cuts and tax increases. It couldn't be more opposed to Merkley's vision. But there's one point of convergence -- that the Supercommittee deliberations will have a significant impact on jobs. My italics below:
Once again, [Boehner] took tax increases off the table. “They destroy jobs. And the Joint Committee is a jobs committee,” he said. He said he would regard the expiration of the Bush tax cuts as a tax increase, removing another option at lawmakers’ disposal. And he repeated the familiar Republican mantra that deficit reduction will create jobs by dispelling long-term economic uncertainty, part of what he called the “triple threat” chilling job creation: meddlesome regulations, Washington’s “spending binges,” and an inequitable tax code.Right, the Supercommittee is a jobs committee. And immediate spending cuts will grow the economy. C'mon, Boehner. Bring these claims to the umpire. Or is the Congressional Budget Office, relied on by both parties to assess deficit impact, mysteriously incapable of objectively calculating likely jobs impact? Perhaps the CBO is as unreliable on this front as climate scientists regarding global warming, or biologists regarding evolution. So the GOP will fight to keep deficit negotiations in their alternative universe.
To switch gears: in the article about Boehner's speech cited above, Swampland's Alex Altman worries that Boehner is once again setting the terms of negotiation, this time for the Supercommittee: Medicare/Medicaid/SS cuts yes, revenue increases no. It would be ironic if Obama, acceding to Democratic pleas to turn his focus to jobs, neglected to lay down an equal and opposite marker to Boehner's for the Supercommittee : no M/M/SS cuts (in fact, no substantive negotiation at all) without revenue increases. Let's not forget that another "hostage situation" looms, though it's supposed to be mutual hostages: the debt deal triggers for automatic cuts. Of course, Obama's blueprint for the Supercommittee is to be released on Monday. There had best be a line in the sand re revenue.