WASHINGTON -

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., called on Congress Wednesday to stop the "drastic automatic budget cuts that will go into effect on Friday and imperil the economy."

Instead, he said, we should take a smarter approach to deficit reduction that prioritizes job growth and preserves key investments to programs important to long-run economic growth and competitiveness.

“We need to end the sequestration, and once and for all stop lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis," he said. "This is no way to run a country."

“I voted no on the bill that created the sequester because it would be deeply damaging to families across Oregon and America," Merkley said. "Our teachers, our police officers and our scientists aren’t the cause of our fiscal challenges.  We don’t have big deficits because we’re spending too much money preventing bridges from falling down or updating an electricity grid built for a different century."   

“What matters are jobs," he said. "What matters is economic opportunity so business can grow and middle class Oregonians can get ahead.  That should be Congress’s focus, but instead we have an austerity-inspired assault on our economy."

"The sequester will throw an estimated three-quarters of a million people out of work.  It will choke off investments in areas our growing economy depends on, like education, infrastructure, and innovation.  We can and should bring down government deficits, but not in a way that makes a tough economy even worse and stifles growth for years to come.

“The sequester is a D.C.-created disaster in the making.  It’s time to take Congress’s foot off the economic brake, make some smart choices about how we build for the future, and spare Americans from a politician-induced recession.," Merkley said.