(Michael Reynolds / European…)
As Congress continues to debate the soaring national debt, a cohort of mayors on Monday descended on the White House to deliver one message to President Obama: "Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs," as Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa put it.
In the second such meeting with Obama this year, 14 mayors advised the president to resolve the debt limit crisis quickly and focus on the needs of metropolitan economies.
"The clock is ticking" on the debt crisis, Villaraigosa, who assumed the role of president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors this weekend, told reporters after the meeting. "We have a Congress that's dithering."
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has said that the federal government runs the risk of defaulting on its obligations if it does not increase the debt limit by Aug. 2.
Philadelphia's Michael Nutter said, "When I go back home, no one is going to walk up to me on the streets of Philadelphia and start having a conversation about the debt limit and deficit reduction. What they want to know is, Mayor, I need a job."
To help slash spending, Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., proposed that the government seriously consider cutting "inefficient" entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, and instead to invest the government's money in cities.
Smith said that 90% of the country's gross domestic product comes from cities and that 95% of future job growth will occur there. The combined economies of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are equivalent to the fifth-largest economy in the world, Villaraigosa said.
Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading deficit talks with lawmakers, told the mayors that "we can't agree on anything until we agree on everything," referring to the debt.