Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) just gave Democratic Leader Harry Reid an extremely useful gift: he asked the Congressional Budget Office to estimate the effects of ending the sequester—the automatic budget caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. The CBO response
should help Reid negotiate a budget deal. Or it would, anyway, if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell really means it when he says he wants to govern.
Easing those ceilings would lead to increased government spending, which in turn would lead to an increase in economic output and higher employment, the CBO said.
"Fully eliminating the reductions would allow for an increase in appropriations of $90 billion in 2016 and $91 billion in 2017," CBO Director Keith Hall wrote in a letter to Sanders.
If Congress reverses the limits in fiscal 2016, for example, the CBO said it could result in the full-time employment of as few as 200,000 more people or as many as 800,000 more people. If the same were done for fiscal 2017, the CBO said it could similarly add as few as 100,000 jobs or as many as 600,000 jobs.
The CBO said sequestration relief would also cause the gross domestic product to grow by as much as 0.6 percent in 2016 and as much as 0.4 percent in 2017.
As many as 1.4 million jobs in two years is a lot of jobs. In a short time frame. Of course, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the last year of President Obama's tenure is probably not something that Republicans would enjoy doing, even if they could claim it as their own victory since they control the Congress. No, they'd far rather toss around some bombs, like shutting down government over Planned Parenthood funding. Because that's just what they do.
At the same time, Sanders has given Democrats something very concrete to point to in what's going to be a huge political fight with real ramifications for 2016. And it's a good political position for Democrats to be in, because it's such a clear, stark contrast. Vote for the party trying to create jobs, or the one shutting down the government to try to take away women's health care.