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WASHINGTON,DC — In a lengthy address Tuesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spelled out his vision of how Washington’s so-called “Super Committee” could balance the federal budget to spur economic growth. Bloomberg’s November 8 remarks were made before an audience in Washington, D.C. which gathered at the progressive organization Center for American Progress’ offices.
The mayor did not mince words in his discussion of what is technically known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. (Super Committee does have a nicer ring to it.)
“I’ve come here as a concerned citizen, like all of you, and as an entrepreneur who dedicated 20 years to building a company,” said the billionaire mayor. “And as the mayor of 8.4 million people, many of whom are deeply worried about their futures.
“Nearly 40 percent of my constituents are immigrants. They came to America and to New York for the opportunity to work and to build better lives for themselves and their families,” Bloomberg said. “That’s the promise of America: a nation of dreamers and strivers. We keep our eyes on the stars and our nose to the grindstone. We understand that success requires hard work. There’s no free lunch. That’s true in New York City and it’s true in towns across America, except one – Washington.”
The mayor, who despite his constant protests to the contrary, continues to be whispered about as a possible third party candidate, continued his fire at D.C.
“For too long, Washington has operated on the ‘something for nothing’ principle. Both parties have promised their constituents the world and given them debt and a sluggish economy and anemic job growth,” said the mayor, who is an Independent. “They’ve adopted ambitious programs without any serious way of paying for them. They’ve promised to produce and protect jobs and for the most part, the elected officials have their jobs. But right now, there are 14 million everyday Americans who can’t find work and more who have stopped looking.”
(The October jobless rate ticked slightly lower to 9.0 percent and an estimated 80,000 jobs were added during that month.)
Bloomberg pointed out that the national deficit now tops $14 trillion. And this is where the Super Committee is supposed to show its stuff by finding about $1.5 trillion in cuts over the next decade with a November 23 deadline quickly approaching. If the committee does find the cuts, its findings are handed over to the full Congress, which has a December 23 deadline to enact the proposal. If it fails to do so, $1.2 trillion in cuts will automatically kick in including to the defense department and Medicare benefits
The Super Committee is comprised of 12 Congressional members – six Democrats and six Republicans. Three of each party come from the Senate side, while three of each party come from the House. Senate Democratic members include Patty Murray – Washington; Max Baucus – Montana; and John Kerry – Massachusetts. Jon Kyl – Arizona; Rob Portman – Ohio; and Pat Toomey – Pennsylvania make up the Senate Republican contingent.
Republican House members include Jeb Hensarling – Texas; Fred Upton – Michigan; and Dave Camp – Michigan, while Democratic House members are Xavier Becerra – California; Jim Clyburn – South Carolina; and Chris Van Hollen – Maryland.
“Real deficit reduction means more jobs today and tomorrow,” Bloomberg said. “But real deficit reduction requires real political courage and that, unfortunately, is the biggest deficit we face.”
Bloomberg also referred to this past summer’s partisan showdown over raising the debt limit.
“The term ‘gridlock’ may have been invented in New York, but when you come to Washington, you realize it’s been turned into a way of life,” he said. “Last summer, we saw the depths of Washington’s dysfunction, when the gridlock over how to cut the nation’s spiraling deficit sunk our perfect credit rating, sent the financial markets tumbling downward and made the credit rating agencies the target of a witch hunt.
“In the span of those two months, Washington did more to hurt our economy, not to mention our reputation as a reliable steward of democracy and free markets, than it had done to help our economy over the previous two years,” the mayor said. “Whatever faith Americans had in Washington’s ability to function was almost totally destroyed. It felt like rock bottom for our political system.”
Bloomberg continued his warnings for the dire economic straits the U.S. confronts and the possibility Congress might simply bury its head in the sand.
“We cannot allow both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and both sides of the aisle to abdicate their leadership responsibilities,” Bloomberg said. “We cannot allow Washington to default on its obligations to the American people. And we cannot allow the U.S. government to be put on auto-pilot, cutting spending without regard to the effectiveness or importance of the programs being cut.
“That’s no way to run a government and as a country, we are better than that,” the mayor continued. “And it’s time we start remembering that, or else this Congress and this Administration, will be remembered for commencing the decline of the greatest economic power ever built.”