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Not a bad message.

It's not entirely clear how the idea of at least $1.5 trillion in cuts and job creating stimulus are at all compatible, but it appears to be the idea that the White House and Senate Democrats have settled on as their message. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the three Democratic senators on the committee write:
Make no mistake, this is an important moment for our country. Millions of Americans are still hurting, working overtime to pay the bills, struggling to find a job and a way forward for their families. Trillions of dollars in private capital are sitting on the sidelines because businesses are not yet confident enough in our economy or in their lawmakers to invest in the future. These families and businesses are demanding that this new committee work together to overcome the partisanship and brinksmanship of recent months and put our fiscal house in order.[...]

We know that our goal is to reduce spending. But we also know that America faces not just a budget deficit but also a jobs deficit. Nobody on this committee would be happy if we reduced the budget deficit but even more Americans end up losing their jobs.

The WSJ is also reporting that President Obama "is considering recommending that lawmakers on a deficit committee back new measures to stimulate the lagging economy, people familiar with White House discussions said Tuesday." At the same time, though:

The plan Mr. Obama is considering also would recommend the congressional committee come up with a package that reduces the federal budget deficit by much more that its mandate of $1.5 trillion over the next decade, a senior administration official said, through changes in the tax code and social safety-net programs.

"There's no reason to stop at $1.5 trillion," the official said.

The measures the White House could ask the committee to consider, this report says, are those things they've been pushing on for a few weeks now:

[E]xtending unemployment-insurance benefits and a payroll-tax cut for employees, which expire at year end and together cost more than $160 billion a year, and an infrastructure bank that could cost as much as $30 billion [...] a payroll-tax cut for employers, worth perhaps as much as roughly $110 billion, and other tax breaks for businesses of as much as $55 billion.

The AP is reporting that we'll hear more than these same ideas from the president in September, with a White House official saying that "all of Obama’s proposals would be fresh ones, not a rehash of plans he has pitched for many weeks and still supports, including his 'infrastructure bank' idea to finance construction jobs."

It's a better message than all austerity, all the time. There's the little problem of how you get any of the six Republicans on the committee to go along with anything that would actually help the country, but we are at least now seeing more of an effort on the part of Democrats to challenge them on that by putting jobs at the fore of their rhetoric. You start with the message, and hopefully that will translate into action.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 09:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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