During an hour-long discussion Wednesday, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., demanded more transparency from the 12-member super committee and encouraged President Barack Obama to make a more forceful argument that the federal government has a role in fixing the economy. The Congressional Budget Office released its updated report early Wednesday). It paints a dire economic picture and forecasts the country’s jobless rate will remain above eight percent until 2014.
In an interview with Kentucky Public Radio, Yarmuth says it was mistake for the Obama administration to promise the stimulus package would lower unemployment, but there is still a role for federal investment.
“I think if you asked them now they will say that was the stupidest thing that basically any administration probably ever said because that’s not something they can necessarily control,” he says.
Yarmuth says there is a lack of demand in the economy that’s keeping the recession lingering and the president needs to emphasize funding infrastructure, research and education.
When the conversation turned to the 12-member super committee charged with finding $1.5 trillion in debt savings, Yarmuth was adamant that it should be more open than the debt ceiling debate.
“We want every meeting of the super committee to be steamed live, we want access to whatever legislation that they produce 72 hours before there’s a vote and we want to make sure that every contact that those committee members have with lobbyists and all the campaign contributions that they get are publicly available and publicly disclosed,” says Yarmuth, adding he’s skeptical if the panel can come up with a compromise that will pass both chambers of Congress.
The bi-partisan panel was created as part of the debt ceiling negotiations to avoid the first-ever government default. It must come up with a deficit reduction plan over a ten-year period or the legislation will make automatic cuts to entitlement and military spending.
Last week, Yarmuth joined over a dozen lawmakers and signed a letter affirming that position for the panel to be more open.
The congressman added more cuts should be made to defense than programs that help low-income citizens, and the committee should be open with its discussions.