Thursday, August 11, 2011

Super Committee: America Speaks, Conservative Appointees, Open Vs. Closed

The Super Committee continues to dominate our concerns about Medicare and our worries for the aged and disabled who rely on it.

What America Wants

According to new polls, here's What America Wants From The Super Committee.  When it comes to Medicare and Social Security, ". . . looking for savings in Social Security or Medicare is out.  Totally out.  The highest rating of support for cutting entitlements is in the Gallup poll, where 42% of those polled said reductions would be ok.  The only ideological majority within that number was the 53% of Tea Party supporters who approved of looking at possible reductions in the programs.  Cuts to Social Security and Medicare only registered 35% support in the CNN poll, and the Marist survey showed extreme disagreement with the idea: only 15% supported cuts, against 83%."

A summary of America's thinking:  New Targeted Taxes On the Wealthy and Corporations;  Support For Cuts To Spending On Domestic Programs, Sans Entitlements;  Possible Cuts To Defense Spending;  and Cuts To Entitlements Are Off The Table.

Polls consistently support Medicare and Social Security.  I don't think it's so much a philosophical or political ideology that creates this result.  I think it's simply the good sense and good will of Americans combined with seeing the practical benefits of these programs.  For the majority of us, it's a no-brainer -- Social Security - good.  Medicare- good.  Good for America and good for the American people.

Republicans Say Extreme Conservatives Are Best Choice

"House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have announced their selections to serve on the new so-called Super Committee -- the panel called for in the debt limit bill that's been tasked with reducing deficits by at least $1.2 trillion."

The article continues, "McConnell's picked his Whip, Jon Kyl (R-AZ), as well as conservative freshman Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), and arch-conservative Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).  Boehner tapped Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chair of the GOP conference, and the caucus' top message man; Dave Camp (R-MI) chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which controls tax revenue; and Fred Upton (R-MI), whose powerful Energy and Commerce Committee has broad jurisdiction over just about everything other than taxes, but particularly health care."

More about Rep. Hensarling:  Speaker Boehner "chose Hensarling -- an extremely conservative member who in recent weeks falsely characterized the debt limit fight as a consequence of spending policies enacted by President Obama and past Democratic congresses.  By quite a ways, most existing debt is the result of GOP policies, or bipartisan initiatives like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Hensarling served on President Obama's fiscal commission, headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, but ultimately opposed their recommendations, because they included higher revenues."

No one could read these appointments as anything positive or hopeful in terms of preventing another budget catastrophe.  How can these politicians be expected to compromise and find solutions that can be supported by Congress, passed, and then signed by the President.  I am not hopeful.  I am discouraged.

Will Meetings Be Public?

"Just as important as who serves on the panel, though, is the question of whether it will function like most Congressional committees do -- open to press and voters, with conflicts of interest disclosed publicly, if not always swiftly or conveniently.  So often, high-stakes negotiations like these are conducted in private, where members feel free from accountability, and, to a lesser extent, from special interest influence."  A number of Senators and Representatives are pushing for an  open process that goes well beyond the meetings themselves.

Our vote, of course, is that these meetings be open.  We know, of course, that there will be deals cut in private.  The White House also has a stake and should be a part of the process before any legislation goes to the President.  Just as with the membership, the conduct of meetings and the overall administrative process need to be scrutinized.  Given the Republican choices for this Committee, it's difficult to think that openness is possible.

Of Considerable Interest

Joseph A. Palermo, Associate Professor of American History, California State University, Sacramento, has more than a little to say about President Obama's failure to speak up on behalf of the poor.  I strongly urge you to read The Perils for Obama of Not Talking About Poverty in America.

The Republican Delusion Zone


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