Progressive Caucus hearing on jobs a welcome relief from budget cuts mania

Wednesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) held an ad hoc hearing on job creation. Ten members of the CPC, including co-chairs Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), listened to testimony from five economists and experts, including EPI Research and Policy Director John Irons, EPI board members Rob Johnson and Julianne Malveaux, and Jeff Sachs and Bob Borosage. They also heard from Garrett Gruener, representing the “Patriotic Millionaires.”

All agreed that the supercommittee is headed in the wrong direction. Bob Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, compared the supercommittee to a bus headed straight toward a cliff, with the bus driver fretting about which lane to be in. In his testimony, John Irons hit back against the notion that the supercommittee needs to “go big,” stating there is no indication that markets are worried about U.S. debt or that they would respond any more favorably to a plan that goes beyond $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Not only are interest rates low, but Moody’s Investor Services, one of the ratings agencies with the power to downgrade the U.S. rating outlook, stated recently that “failure by the committee to reach agreement would not by itself lead to a rating change.” Irons stated, however, that he believed the market would react if Congress fails to do anything on jobs.

The hearing concluded with Gruener, representing the Patriotic Millionaires, which are a group of very wealthy people who want to see taxes raised on those making over $1 million – people like themselves – for the good of the nation. They lobbied on Capitol Hill Wednesday, urging Congress to raise taxes on those who can most afford it. Gruener, a businessman, testified that not one of his business decisions has been a function of marginal tax rates. He said:

“Not once, and I literally mean not once, have any of my decisions – my personal investment decisions or any of the investment decisions I’ve ever seen in the venture community – been a function of marginal taxes. … We’re not trying to grow companies in which the change of a few percentage points one way or the other is going to make a big difference.”

The supercommittee would be wise to pay more attention to hearings such as these. But though the CPC invited members of the supercommittee to attend, none did.