Sen. Jeff Merkley's proposal that the Super Congress agree to have the Congressional Budget Office "analyze their recommendations for impact on jobs, not just for impact on the deficit" was not embraced by the committee as a whole.
But Rep. Chris Van Hollen, one of the committee members, took the idea to heart and asked the CBO to analyze employment and the deficit.
"I asked CBO to estimate the size of the deficit if the economy were at full employment, and CBO's response confirms that our weak economy is the major contributing factor, accounting for over one third of the projected deficit for fiscal year 2012," Van Hollen said in a statement last night. "It's clear that the fastest and most effective ways to reduce the short term deficit is to put Americans back to work."
Here's how CBO puts it. Under full employment, "the projected federal deficit under current law in fiscal year 2012 would be about a third lower, or roughly $630 billion instead of the $973 billion projected in CBO's most recent baseline. That deficit would be equal to about 4.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), compared with the 6.2 percent deficit projected for 2012 in CBO's baseline.
Republicans will undoubtedly react with "well, that's just their opinion," as they always do when the CBO tells them something they don't want to hear.