U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a recent op-ed that the debt ceiling debate was a “political crisis, not an economic one,” adding that lawmakers should focus on growth and job creation as the country continues its recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.
“And one of the fundamental reasons our economy is not firing on all cylinders is Washington,” Lew said. “Our economy has been poised to make serious strides over the last few years, but self-inflicted political wounds have gotten in the way time after time. Without question, the government shutdown and the debt ceiling impasse have led to economic hardship in every corner of the country. While we do not yet know the exact magnitude of the damage, these events have generated unnecessary headwinds for the economy. We should never again take this country to the point of near-default in order to exact political gain.”
Lew urged lawmakers to develop a budget that builds on progress towards lowering budget deficits. He said a comprehensive package should include deficit reduction, entitlement reform and Medicare and Social Security protections.
“We must come together to fix the blunt spending cuts known as sequestration, once and for all,” Lew said. “These indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts, which went into effect earlier this year, were intended to be so mutually disagreeable that they would force Congress to find agreement on a balanced package of deficit reduction measures. But that agreement was not reached in time. As independent economists and business leaders will tell you, these cuts have already slowed economic growth, just as the economy was getting traction.”
Lew also said Congress should pass immigration reform and tax code reform as part an effort to boost economic growth.
“The bipartisan [immigration] bill already passed by the Senate would strengthen our borders, provide a pathway to earned citizenship and boost growth by more than a trillion dollars while reducing our deficits,” Lew said. “Another piece of bipartisan legislation that has passed the Senate, but not the House of Representatives, is the farm bill. Getting this bill signed into law is not only important for America’s farmers and protecting America’s most vulnerable children, it is important for our economy. Finally, we need to come together soon to complete the bipartisan work that has already begun to reform our business tax code, modernize our housing finance system and renew trade promotion authority while repairing our deteriorating roads, highways and bridges.”