House Democrats today called on President Obama to “be bold” during his address to a joint session of Congress later this week and present a plan that not only creates jobs, but also addresses the primary drivers of the country’s deficits.
One day before the House of Representatives is set to return from a month-long legislative recess, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership came back to Capitol Hill to outline their expectations of the president’s highly anticipated speech Thursday and to divulge the House Democrats’ strategy heading into the first meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
“In the month of August we had a very extended opportunity to listen to our constituents. Obviously their top priority is job creation and economic growth, our — protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and to again strengthen the middle class,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “There’s a lot that we can do, that Congress can do, in a very short time, and I think that’s what we’ll be hearing from the president. We stand ready to help. We stand ready to compromise. We hope we can all make a difference.”
All three of the House Democrats’ appointees to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, Reps. Xavier Becerra, James Clyburn and Chris Van Hollen, joined Pelosi and other Democratic leaders at the news conference.
Becerra, the House Democratic Caucus vice chairman, urged the president to present “bold’ initiatives to create jobs and reduce the deficit.
“Mr. President, in two days, be bold. Hit it out of the park. The American public is waiting for that leadership that tells us once again that we’re ready to lead not just the United States of America, but the entire world, back from this abyss,” Becerra, D-Calif., said. “Whether it’s on this select committee, or whether it’s right there in the White House, it’s time for us to be bold and understand that our bottom line must be creating a job.”
Becerra also said that if the president is going to get the country back on track, he “can’t just fiddle on the edges.”
“You have to really take on some of those sacred cows, and if we take a close look at what drove us into these deficits, what turned us from having record surpluses in 2001 to record deficits in 2011, and if we go after the main drivers of the deficits, we can not only put America back on track, but if we do it the right way, we’ll put Americans back to work,” Becerra added. “The American public is waiting for us, whether it’s to hit that home run or throw that “hail Mary” pass. We can do it. We’ve done it before, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t try.”
Another Democratic appointee, Van Hollen, said that it was “very appropriate” that the first meeting of the joint committee will take place hours before the president is set to address a joint session of Congress.
“The fastest and most effective way to reduce the deficit is to put America back to work,” Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, said. “A serious deficit reduction strategy has to include a major jobs component. It also has to include a balanced approach to reducing the deficit over the long period of time because we know that the challenge is large. But you need both, and you need jobs.”
“These things go together and I look forward to working with colleagues on the committee, in the caucus, in the Congress — Republicans, Democrats alike — to try and do exactly that and try and be a partner working with the president to move the country forward,” Van Hollen, D-Maryland, added.
Clyburn, the House Democrats’ final representative on the powerful panel, said that the past month was anything but a vacation, as he held town halls across his district.
“These people didn’t want to hear me talking about cuts. They didn’t want to hear anything but jobs. They want to see us focus on jobs,” Clyburn, D-South Carolina, said. “They believe that if they could get a job, they would be able to pay taxes, that their confidence will rise, and they will be able to help with deficit reduction in a way that would make all of us proud.”
Pelosi said the trio is being sent to the table “with the highest expectations, with the best good will and without drawing any lines in the sand” and said that House Democrats will continue to promote their own initiatives on job creation as well.
“It’s very important for us to stop the erosion of our industrial, our manufacturing and our technological base. It’s important to our entrepreneurial spirit, to the development of our small businesses,” Pelosi added. “It’s important, not only economically, but to our national security that we are self-reliant, that we have the tools of production to defend the American people.”