President Obama on Monday gave a speech outlining his administration’s proposal for the Joint Select Committee on the Deficit. The President’s plan calls for $3 trillion in deficit reduction to be achieved through enacting the American Jobs Act, asking the wealthy to pay their fair share, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and rationalizing health care spending rather than cutting Medicare or Medicaid benefits. Overall, it is a very good proposal that is being praised by the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and MoveOn.org, and is being credited with likely pushing the deficit committee discussions to the left. Keep reading for details on the President’s proposal and for ways to contact the twelve members of the deficit super-committee.
The deficit super-committee is charged with proposing by November 23, 2011 $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years through spending cuts and/or revenue increases. If the Committee is able to agree to a proposal, it would then receive an up-or-down vote, with no filibusters or amendments, in both houses of Congress. The Committee has twelve members, with six from each party. Any proposal that goes to Congress would have to be approved by at least a 7-5 majority, so at least one Democrat or one Republican member of the Committee must end up siding with the other party in order to avoid a deadlock. If the Committee does not make a proposal, or Congress rejects the proposal, $1.2 trillion in cuts over ten years starting in 2013 would automatically go into effect. Those automatic cuts would include nearly $500 billion reduction in military spending, but no cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, or beneficiaries of Medicare.
The President, however, has proposed to go much larger than the $1.5 trillion amount required by the previous deficit reduction deal, and to instead seek $3 trillion in deficit reductions and enough budget savings to pay for the American Jobs Act. To achieve this, the President:
* called for passage of the American Jobs Act, which would help stimulate economic recovery by preventing the layoffs of teachers and firefighters; investing $30 billion rebuilding schools and $50 billion in rebuilding rails, roads, and airports; and by extending the payroll tax cut.
* proposed $1.5 trillion in additional revenue by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share and closing corporate loopholes.
* acknowledged the $1.1 trillion savings that will be achieved through ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
* sought $320 billion in savings from Medicare and Medicaid achieved through rationalizing health care spending rather than cutting benefits to beneficiaries. The President specifically ruled out increasing the eligibility age for Medicare, and took Social Security off the table.
* called for $257 billion in cuts to mandatory government spending programs, including a 50% cut to agricultural subsidies.
* vowed to veto any plan that seeks to cut Medicare benefits while not asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.
In short, the President’s proposal echoes the three core principles for the deficit reduction super-committee that Winning Progressive discussed previously – prioritizing job creation, increasing revenue from the wealthy, and ensuring there are no cuts to Social Security or Medicare beneficiaries.
Now is the time for us progressives to make our voices heard in support of President Obama’s strong proposal to create jobs and reduce the deficit in a balanced way. Here are the DC phone numbers, and links to other contact information, for each of the twelve members of the deficit super committee. Please contact the members of the deficit and write a letter to your local newspaper editor in support of President Obama’s American Jobs Act and deficit reduction proposal.
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) – (202) 224-2651
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) – (202) 224-2621
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) – (202) 224-2742
Rep. Chris VanHollen (D-MD)- (202) 225-5341
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) – (202) 225-6235
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) – (202) 225-3315
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) – (202) 224-3353
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) – (202) 224-4521
Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) – (202) 224-4254
Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) – (202) 225-3561
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) – (202) 225-3484
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) – (202) 225-3761