Merkley: Budget Choices Must Create Jobs and Make U.S. Competitive as well as Reduce Deficit

– Today, President Barack Obama released his FY2012 budget blueprint.  Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement on the budget:

“We face some very difficult choices as a nation.  Millions of Americans are still out of work, and many of those are in danger of losing their homes.  Communities and states across the country are struggling with their own budget shortfalls and looking at drastic cuts to needed services.  China and other global competitors are investing far more in infrastructure, education, and new industries than we are.  At the same time, we face a large federal deficit and growing debt that could have long-term impacts on our economic stability.

“We need to make smart budget choices that address all of these problems, especially getting Americans back to work.  We can and must bring down our deficits responsibly, but the worst choice we could make would be choking off our economy now, producing a double-dip recession that generates more debt and destroys jobs. 

“President Obama makes the right choice to increase FY2012 funding for Secure Rural Schools.  Many of our timber dependent counties face double-digit unemployment – the federal government must continue to live up to its end of the long-standing compact with timber communities.

“The most important thing we can do right now – for deficit reduction as well as for families’ and businesses’ bottom lines – is to get America back to work.  That means making smart investments.  I am pleased that President Obama has focused on investing in making commercial buildings more energy-efficient through loan guarantee programs similar to legislation I introduced last Congress.  He is also promoting the research, development and deployment of clean energy technology and electric vehicles similar to the Electric Vehicle Deployment Act I authored with Senator Alexander, which will not only create jobs here at home, but reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.  Making America self-sufficient with our energy needs is an important step in growing our economy.  And eliminating billions in subsidies to oil and gas companies – companies that are making record profits – is another smart step to both reduce our deficit and promote clean energy development.

“I am, however, disappointed that the President has targeted a number of programs that working families and our communities rely on during tough times.  The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is critical for so many seniors on fixed incomes.  And Community Development Block Grants allow cities and counties to make needed improvements to help spur job creation. 

“In the coming weeks I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to ensure that we’re making the right investments to create jobs as we reduce the deficit and build for the future.”