Reducing the deficit must not be achieved by slashing services and safety nets, he warns.
Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, who serves on the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, dubbed the "super committee," is on a mission. The group has been charged with identifying and pushing through Congress more than $1 trillion in spending cuts by Thanksgiving, and he is determined that it not be done at the expense of those who can least afford it.
In his opening statement at the panel’s first public meeting last week, he implored his colleagues to consider how their work could impact vulnerable populations.
“Any solution to our debt problems must be fair,” he said. “It is just plain wrong to put all the burden of the debt and deficit reduction on the elderly, the middle class and the poor."
The South Carolina lawmaker believes that job creation is an excellent way to raise revenues and reduce the deficit because more people will be paying taxes that will go into the government’s coffers.
“I think a big part of the committee’s job is not just focusing on cuts, but how to raise revenues, close tax loopholes and eliminate [corporate] subsidies. I’m not going to get in the game of just cuts, cuts, cuts,” Clyburn told BET.com.
That is not to say that he’s unwilling to compromise. According to Clyburn, if the distance between him and an opponent is about five steps, he doesn’t mind taking three steps, but balks at all five. This is his way of saying that both Democrats and Republicans must find commonsense solutions that will benefit the American people. If they are unable to accomplish their goal, across-the-board spending cuts will automatically be made to Defense and entitlement programs.
“Either we use a scalpel as a 12-member committee and make cuts in a sustainable way or we allow the meat axe to take hold, as the triggers will probably do,” Clyburn said. “It behooves us to step up to do the work in a very creative and productive way. Triggers are the easy way out.”
Clyburn believes that targeting waste, fraud and abuse will be essential and could save the federal government billions of dollars. In addition, he fully supports increasing taxes for the nation’s wealthiest individuals and corporations.
(Photo: AP Photo/Cliff Owen)