Campaign for America’s Future’s Robert Borosage Testifies: “For This Nation to Succeed, The Super Committee Must `Fail'”

Washington, DC – Campaign for America’s Future’s Robert Borosage is testifying before the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s hearing ad hoc hearing on job creation today. Excerpts from the testimony of Robert Borosage:

“Let me lay out the case clearly and make three points. 1. For this nation to succeed, the Super Committee must fail. 2. It is time to put people to work. 3. Shared Sacrifice is for suckers.

1. The Super Committee Must Fail

“If a drunken bus driver were careening down the wrong road that leads directly off a steep cliff, we would want him to fail. That is exactly the case with the Super Committee. They are headed down the wrong road and it will be ruinous if they succeed.

“This is a nation with 26 million people in need of full-time work. Wages are not keeping up with prices. Poverty, now at record levels, is spreading. One in five homes with a mortgage is underwater. Companies are sitting on trillions in profits waiting for customers…We should be having a fierce argument about how to put people to work and get this economy going. … Instead the Super Committee is peddling austerity, pushing Republicans to accept tax hikes (or at least pretend to accept them) and Democrats to embrace cuts in Social Security and Medicare. This is grand folly.

“The best deficit reduction plan is to put people back to work. In fact, America does not have a short-term debt problem. If we have a recovery, then our deficits will come down to manageable levels by the end of the decade. If we don’t have a recovery, then austerity will simply make things worse…. […]

“We need a sizable, sustained and serious jobs program now. And we cannot turn to austerity, to getting our books in order, until we put people back to work. If the Super Committee were to be useful, it would report out – with its expedited voting powers – a bold and sustained jobs proposal, combining increases in spending – on infrastructure, on direct public jobs programs, on aid to states and localities, on mortgage relief for homeowners – with cuts in taxes to enlist Republicans. It would then make the trigger for any turn to austerity not an arbitrary date, but when Americans are going back to work, and unemployment is down to 4 or 5%. […]

2. Put People To Work

“We know how to put people to work in a recession….. The need to renovate America’s decrepit and outmoded infrastructure is apparent. It is now dangerous to our lives and costly to our economy… We should be borrowing money, essentially for free, in large amounts to rebuild this country and put people to work.

“Second, youth unemployment in this country for those aged 16-19 is at the same level it was in Egypt when the Arab Spring erupted. For the first time in half century, a majority of young people from 16-24 is not working. We have a generation of veterans returning from wars, students graduating from high school that can’t find jobs….We should make government the employer of last resort for every person under 25. Create urban and green corps; subsidize small businesses and non-profits to put people to work…

“Third…– a manufacturing strategy based on making it America, transforming our trade and industrial policies, a commitment to taking a lead in the green industrial revolution that is sweeping the world, an investment agenda in education and training to insure that our people are the best trained in the world – are vital to building a new foundation for growth and shared prosperity….

3. Shared Sacrifice is for Suckers

“Once the economy recovers and people go back to work, it will then be time to face our long-term debt challenge, and get our accounts in order. Here too, however, the Super Committee is headed down the wrong road.

“Republicans have argued that we should balance our budget with spending cuts only – calling for dismantling Medicare, cutting Medicaid and Social Security, and exacting deep cuts in everything from education to child nutrition. Democrats have called for `shared sacrifice,’ offering to trade cuts in Medicare and Social Security for tax increases on the rich.

“But, when the rewards of growth are not shared, shared sacrifice is for suckers. The reality is that we face a huge mess because Wall Street went on a wilding that blew up the economy. Most Americans weren’t even invited to the party. Now under the banner of shared sacrifice, they are being asked to clean up the mess. Bull. Send the bill to those who had the party. […]

“We need to hike taxes on the wealthy and on Wall Street to help pay for the mess they created and to provide the funds, once people are back to work, to continue investing in America.

“Our long-term debt problem is not a spending problem or a tax problem. It is the product of a broken health care system. We pay nearly twice per capita what the rest of the industrial world pays on health care, with worse results.

“Cutting Medicare — raising the eligibility age as some Democrats have proposed, dismantling it and turning into a voucher as Republicans have suggested — does nothing for the soaring costs of our health care system. It simply pushes more of those costs on to those least able to afford them — the elderly, the poor, the disabled.

“The cure to our long-term budget problem is to get health care costs under control. That requires taking on the drug companies, the insurance companies and the private hospital complexes that drive prices. […]

“You can’t get the right answer if you aren’t asking the right question. At this point, the Super Committee is asking all the wrong questions, and coming up with all the wrong answers.”

The testimony of Robert L. Borosage before the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Jobs Hearing Nov. 16, 2011