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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/16/11

Super Congress in Session - More of the Cruel Charade

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Wall Street and the big banks owe $1.5 trillion for the bailout (at least).  The Super Congress needs to cut $1.5 trillion over ten years.  Get the money from Wall Street and cancel the Super Congress.  Problem solved.

Last month's debt ceiling crisis was resolved when Congress and the Obama administration made a deal to cut  trillions in federal spending over the next ten years.  Congress identified the easy cuts, the low hanging fruit so to speak, for a total of nearly $1.0 trillion.  At the same time, Congress and the White House created the "Super Congress" committee of six senators and six representatives charged with cutting another $1.5 trillion. (Image: Lucy White with permission)

The committee has unparalleled power to draft legislation, without the normal legislative processes of debate, deliberation, modification, and amendments.  If seven of the twelve committee members vote in favor of the budget cutting legislation by the November 23 deadline (see chart in appendix III), the bill will be submitted to the entire Congress for an up or down vote.  The bill will not be subject to any modification or change.  Debate will be very limited. (Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Text-pdf)

A Lose--Lose Deal for Citizens

The Super Congress committee is a lose-lose deal for citizens.  If the committee produces legislation that is passed into law, that law will be based on a violation of any number of democratic processes.  If the committee fails to produce legislation then watch for another round of downgrades from the credit rating agencies that brought us the real estate bubble and the economic collapse.

The legislation that created this committee surrenders unrestrained authority to the committee of twelve. This excludes the input and votes of the remaining Senators and members of the House of Representatives in the process of cutting the federal budget.

The goal is to improve the economy and help citizens.  It will do neither.  By cutting government spending this way, the bill will inevitably take money out of the economy and cost jobs for public employees and government contractors.  Cutting benefits, it will also harm citizens by reducing their ability to access basic services.

A majority of the House and Senate voted to create this committee, a compromise between the White House and reactionary leadership in the Republican and Democratic parties.

Did we elect these people to create illogical, harmful legislation as a solution to the crisis that many of them created in the first place?

We live in a world where public servants assume the role of autocratic masters without any regard to the realities of our current situation.  The people are reduced to mere spectators watching the elected in crowd accumulate yet more power and operate without citizen input.

The committee is stacked to protect the status quo

The status quo is quite simply the following:  corporate subsidies; ongoing bailouts for Wall Street; endless war; and, the unrestrained growth of the national security state.  None of this is on the table for the vaunted Super Congress.

The committee was appointed by the Democratic and Republican leaders in the United States House of Representatives and Senate. One line of reasoning argues that the six to six split of Republicans and Democrats is a formula for stalemate. A more cynical view is that there is a "ringer" on the Democratic side who will vote with the highly conservative Republican faction. A third outcome is that there is an underlying unity on the committee. This will lead to a compromise "sacrifice" that will appear to be across the board but, In fact, favor those at the very top of the economy.

Let's look at some evidence of political philosophy according to the voting records of the committee members. Republican members include Senators Kyl (AZ), Portman (OH), and Toomey (PA). The Republican Representatives are Camp and Upton (MI) and Hensarling (TX). Democratic Senators include Baucus (MT), Kerry (MA), and Murray (WA). Democratic Representatives are Becerra (CA), Clyburn (SC), and Van Hollen (MD).

Using the decades old Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) ratings and those of the American Conservative Union, we see a strong ideological split. Each organization rates members of Congress on a set number of bills each year to determine their loyalty to liberal or conservative causes. The ADA ratings for the 2nd session of the 110th Congress, 2010, shows the Super Congress Democrats with very liberal ratings averaging 93% (range, 85-100%). The Republicans scored higher on the ACU scale averaging 96% (range, 88-100%)

The supposed ideological strength on each side of the committee represents the argument for deadlock. The liberal--conservative divide will play out in the committee, the argument goes, and there will be no legislation.

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