Treasury Secretary Lew spells out what's next

Oct. 21, 2013 at 12:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Monday the government needs a bipartisan approach to support the economic recovery.

In an op-ed published in The International New York Times, Lew said "growth is not strong enough, and job creation needs to accelerate."

In an article that included a Democratic party agenda for the economy, Lew said the government "can start by hammering out a budget agreement that builds on the progress we have already made."

On NBC News' "Meet the Press" Lew said Sunday the recent political crisis that resulted in a government shutdown and an 11th hour agreement on the debt ceiling had done harm to the nation's economy.

"While we do not yet know the exact magnitude of the damage, these events have generated unnecessary headwinds for the economy," he said in Monday's op-ed piece.

Lew said the steps for moving forward included protecting Medicare and Social Security while recalculating the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration that were outlined in a 2011 agreement and intended as a last resort budget approach should no other compromise be reached.

No other compromise was reached and the budget cuts began to take effect in January.

"We must come together to fix the blunt spending cuts known as sequestration, once and for all. 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," Lew wrote.

Instead of forcing a compromise, the budget cuts that went into effect now threaten to reduce the real gross domestic product "by as much as 1.2 percent, which means as many as 1.6 million fewer American jobs," Lew said, attributing the data to the Congressional Budget Office.

Lew also called for immigration reform, passage of the farm bill and an overhaul of the business tax code. In addition, he said it was time to "modernize your housing finance system and renew trade promotion authority while repairing our deteriorating roads, highways and bridges."

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