Friday, September 9, 2011

The President Speaks, UPDATE - Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Begins Work

President Obama:

" 'Now, I realize there are some in my party who don’t think we should make any changes at all to Medicare and Medicaid, and I understand their concerns,' Obama said during his speech Thursday.  'But here’s the truth.  Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in their retirement.  And millions more will do so in the future.  They pay for this benefit during their working years.  They earn it."

"But with an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program.  And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won’t be there when future retirees need it.  We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.' "

The President was not at all clear about what changes he has in mind --cuts in reimbursement, for example, or changes in eligibility.  We shall wait and see.  But, we are concerned.

First Session

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare reports:  "The twelve members of Congress’ so-called 'Super Committee' held their first public meeting today [Thursday].  It was largely a pro-forma type event with opening statements all around and the approval of the committee’s rules."

"The Committee will meet again next week to hear from the Congressional Budget Office  and could also schedule meetings with the Chairs of two other deficit panels, Bowles/Simpson and Rivlin/Domenici to hear about their proposals.  The committee co-chairmen also said they may also go behind closed doors on 'important issues'. [sic]  It’s hard to imagine what wouldn’t qualify as an 'important' issue given the enormity of the panel’s mission."

We wholeheartedly agree with the importance of this panel and its work.  These may be the most important discussions for America in many decades.  Not only are our most important pre-paid public benefits in jeopardy, but also the role of the Federal government in ensuring the general welfare of the American people is being questioned.  We all need to pay close attention between now and Thanksgiving.

Open Public Meetings (Jobs & Taxes Detract)

"The so-called Super Congress will hold all of its meetings in public, in full view of the voters and the press, the co-chairs of the committee announced on Thursday after its first meeting.  At least, they will really try."   "The proceedings were interrupted once, when protesters outside shouted, 'Jobs now!' and held up signs calling on the committee to 'Tax the rich.'"

Rules Highlights:  "According to the new rules, the co-chairs will be required to provide an agenda two days in advance of each meeting, and other members will be required to post their proposed recommendations a day ahead of the sessions.  Staff will keep a full record of the votes and discussion at all meetings, which will then be made available to the public.  The Super Congress website will publish the text of each individual recommendation within 24 hours of the committee's agreeing to it and will post transcripts and video when possible.  All meetings should be open and accessible to the public."

This is all very promising as far as openness is concerned, although they acknowledge that some sessions will be private.  As soon as I have the Web site address for the Joint Select Committee, I will publish it here in TMDR.

Failure Is Not an Option

"As the deficit super committee kicked off its long-awaited first meeting Thursday morning, Republicans and Democrats on the panel were in perfect agreement on one thing: failure is not an option."  "For the most part, lawmakers set aside entrenched partisan divisions and lauded the committee's bipartisan, behind-the-scenes, organizational work over the past month, but ideological differences were still apparent."

Input for All (Well, Lobbyists, Anyway)

"Washington’s influence class lined up against the deficit-reduction supercommittee as the dozen lawmakers charged with cutting as much as $1.5 trillion over a decade scrambled to write ground rules in advance of Thursday’s first public meeting of the panel.  The lobbying is coming from all sides as a wide range of agencies and interest groups look to protect their turf."


No comments:

Post a Comment