Debt Panel Urged to Target Job Creation; Democrats Contend Deficit Reduction, Infrastructure 'Mutually Reinforcing'
Byline: Sean Lengell, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Democratic leaders want a new bipartisan congressional panel tasked with finding ways to slash the deficit to also include job-growth provisions in their plan.
The 12-member supercommittee born of this summer's bitter debt- and deficit-reduction battle is charged with coming up with a plan to trim up to $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit during the next decade.
But Capitol Hill Democrats are pushing for a jobs package to accompany the plan, saying that deficit cuts and reducing the nation's 9.1 percent unemployment rate go hand-in-hand.
The fastest and most effective way to reduce the deficit is to put America back to work, said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat and a deficit committee member, during a news conference held by House Democratic leaders at the Capitol on Tuesday.
Democrats say improving the nation's aging infrastructure network - such as highways, bridges, and water- and sewage-treatment systems - would go a long way toward mutually reinforcing the workforce and the economy.
I don't think there's a person who sits on this select [deficit-reduction] committee who doesn't believe that job growth, economic growth, is key to us getting out of this fiscal mess, said Rep. Xavier Becerra, California Democrat, another member of the deficit panel.
Across the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said job creation should be Congress' No. 1 priority.
Rather than working with Democrats to pass job-creating legislation, [Republicans this year] insisted on reckless cuts that hurt our economic recovery and prevented us from getting Americans working again, the Nevada Democrat said.
But Republicans say that reducing government regulations and cutting taxes - not creating new government programs - is the best way to spur job growth.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Mr. …