From the desk of Methuen Mayor Bill Manzi – August – 2011
Dear President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid, House Speaker Boehner, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, and House Minorty Leader Pelosi:
Now that the debt ceiling has been temporarily resolved, we urge you to focus intently on the real solution to the federal deficit issue: economic growth and job creation for the American people. While the debt ceiling compromise is to be applauded for averting innediate economic chaos and for ensuring that the United States can meet its obligations to its soldiers and the elderly,it unfortunately does nothing to bolster the nation’s fragile economic recovery. In fact, this compromise may even jeapardize it.
The way to resurrect the United States economy is not simply by cutting government spending and pledging no tax increases, but rather by designing programs that work in partnership with the private sector to increase economic growth. Such programs will simultaneously create jobs and reduce the deficit through increased revenue. Throughout our history, economic growth, as opposed to spending cuts, has proven to reduce the country’s deficit. Most recently, during the Clinton Administration, sustained economic growth, which averaged 4.0% per year, resulted in 22.5 million new jobs being created and generated a $237 billion surplus, the largest in our nation’s history.
The current level of economic growth will not lead to a real recovery. There are at least 14.1 million unemployed Americans and millions more who are underemployed. In American cities, unemployment has been in the double digits for at least the past three years. Economists believe that a sustained growth rate of over 3.0% is necessary to meaningfully reduce unemployment but the Commerce Department reported last week that the GDP grew at the annual rates of .4% and 1.3% for the first and second quarters of this year, respectively – hardly growth that will drive an economic recovery.
The challenge to create jobs and enhance revenue must be approached with a sense of urgency and renewed commitment. The operative word for the past week was “compromise,” but the only thing “compromised” was the economic viatlity of the American family. To foster the economic growth that is so critical toour nation’s recovery, we urge you to add to the mandate of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction the responsibilities of identifying the factors that led to the current era of low economic growth and creating programs to bring economic growth back to the robust and sustainable levels.
Restoring our nation’s economic health will not happen by fiddling with the status quo or taking doctrinaire positions on taxes or entitlement programs. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reducation should be explicitly instructed to recommend wholesale policy changes where necessary. These could include revisiting trade agreements and tax rates and loopholes, reviewing entitlement programs, and launching major new economic and educational investments to spur growth in the private sector.
The United States is the only country that exports jobs, only to then import the products that the exported jobs produce. The United States is also the only country that dismantled it’s manufacturing capabilities for pure profit with complete disregard for the American worker and the strength of the country. As mayors, we have witnessed firsthand the effects of these policies, and this “compromise” bill will do nothing to restore economic growth in cities across America.
We also challenge you to reclaim the parameters of the country’s economic debate. This is not 1776, this is a modern, complex economy for the #1 superpower of the world. The common goal of economic growth should not be a partisan one; rather it is the key to shared American prosperity and American Leadership. For the United States to be strong abroad, it must also be strong at home and provide opportunity for all of its citizens. The partisan bickering that occurred in the days and weeks leading up to this vote has done nothing to address the real problems with our economy or to propse solutions for reslolving them. This week we averted economic chaos, but we certainly did not inspire confidence about the prospect of future economic growth in America. Rather than continue to debate ideological strains, the Administration and Congress must meaningfully address job creation and revenue growth through long-lasting economic recovery.
Scott W. Lang, Mayor, New Bedford
President, Massachusetts Mayors ation