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“Super Congress” — Gang of Six End Run to Fast-Track Work of UnRepresentative Catfood Commission

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(Note: Recently, I wrote a comment to the headlines/clips concerning the implications of a part of the Gang of Six plan.  But it is so important that I will expand and front page a separate discussion of it.)

No president, and certainly not the Constitution, has given a subcommittee of twelve absolute control over much of Americans’ financial futures, but the Peter Peterson (Koch-funded) Americans-for-Prosperity-infused Congress is trying to move like a tidal wave to accomplish that now. After reading the Gang of Six talking points (in lieu of a real plan) that was leaked to the press, I warned readers of this problem . But don’t take my word for it.  Ryan Grim describes this.  Here is just a portion of Grimm’s article:

This “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers. Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers — six from each chamber and six from each party.

Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.

Got  that?  Less accountability.   A twelve person panel will NOT represent us better, but actually worse. One has only to look at how unrepresentative was the Catfoold Commission (Bowles-Simpson). What we got from that group was a constant bashing of seniors by (ironically) wealthy senior Alan Simpson. His co-chair was Erskine Bowles, who owes his loyalty to Wall Street, where he has been a director at a major Wall St firm. There were only 2-3 progressives in the entire group. That commission failed to confront the real reasons for the deficit we face.  And it legitimized taking Americans for a ride. It also got no mandate either from voters or from a vote out of the commission.  This new proposal for a Super Congress is to do what the Catfood Commission could not.

It is hard to imagine a more reckless authorization for plutocracy. And now John Boehner is on this train as well (as if he never were.)  Can’t-or may have “walked,” but you know he’s really on the train.

If Warner succeeds, a simple majority of this Super Congress group (the twelve plutocrats) will be enough to ram through fast-track legislation. Then the package moves to Congress, but under new stringent rules spelled out by Warner et al. I refer you back to the first link in this blog for the evidence.  There would be no filibuster allowed in the real Congress. There can be no amendments, just a simple up or down vote. But, once passed, a 67 vote supermajority of Congress will be required to ever make changes after that. No changes in budget caps/ceilings. No changes in the debt ceiling. You know as do I that we will NOT be able to get 67 votes for anything. A second debt ceiling vote will NEVER pass.  Because of the quasi back door Gang spending caps in lieu of a balanced budget amendment, the Gang  is engineering a collision between the Social Security eliminationists and the interests of the rest of us. You will one day need your benefits just as much as the overwhelming majority of today’s seniors do.

On the other hand, if you “just” retract the Bush tax cuts, bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, negotiate the cost of health care and prescription drugs for Medicare recipients, and cut corporate tax dodges, our fiscal problems go away. Most of all, if you grow jobs, trillions of the deficit, by some estimates half of it, go away before we begin deficit reduction at all. Why is that not the starting point?

As Grimm suggests, Mark Warner’s Gang was constructed to give legislative authority and heft to a So-so-Called Deficit Commission report which never passed. Given artificially strict and radical requirements, the Gang plan  assures that the economy does not recover.  The evidence strongly shows trickle-down economics doesn’t work.  But then when the government hits the monetary wall, it will “have no option,” but to commandeer the Social security trust fund to meet ordinary expenses.  No more IOUs.  It’s on-your-ownership for everyone. Remember also that, by law, Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit.

(The hope is that) what happens next is up to you.  Time is short.  Might I suggest letting Mark Warner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell know what you think of this crazy, overreaching unConstitutional, and dangerous Plutocrat plan. It’s a dishonest way to cut entitlements which REAL PEOPLE are entitled to because they paid for them. It is also a dishonest way to ramrod a quasi balanced budget amendment through. While you are at it, please write the president and tell him that Some “Big Things” are not worth having. Otherwise, we are about to find out that there is something worse than deficits.  Can you say, “Wisconsin?”  

  • KathyinBlacksburg

    Democrats are pushing a BIG plan through without appropriate consideration.  The desperation to do something “big,” is as shortsighted as I have ever heard of.

    At this point we would be better off with a short-term deal.  It is not kicking the can down the road to wait until the economy improves more before undertaking stringent belt tightening.  But all of the effort to do that should be conducted in sunlight.  The back-room bartering at our expense should end.

  • Teddy Goodson

    when you create a Super Committee. Exactly this was one of the worries of the Founding Fathers, who knew their English history. It is a giant step down the road to authoritarian government-by-decree.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    A “solution” such as this is the result of a dysfunctional government born of a political system bought and paid for by those with money and influence. The “solution” is born of desperation by a few senators to attempt to solve a problem that can bring down the entire global economy.

    I agree that this plan is unconstitutional on its face, but it is a creation of desperation. Had we had a Congress that did not contain tea-poisoned GOPers, we just might have taken the Simpson-Bowles Commission report and turned it into legislation, taken it to the Hill, had it scrutinized by 535 representatives, amended it and passed those elements that made sense. Instead, the debt limit and the deficit have become just more bricks in the wall of partisanship that is destroying our democracy.

    This whole matter has confirmed me as a pragmatic person looking for those who want to seek a solution. I see Barack Obama as such a person. How can he possibly get solutions when ideology limits all action?

  • KathyinBlacksburg

    I am an idealist but with a pragmatic bent.  I just cannot accept that any deal is a good deal.  And the desperation of the Senate Dems and the WH worries me.  they give the impression that almost any big deal would be good to them.  That’s a fools bargain with other people’s lives.

    The President says he won’t listen to his base, so I do not know what the point is.  But the idealist in me does not want to give up.  

  • Teddy Goodson

    There is nothing wrong with Congress that could not be fixed by getting rid of the Republican members whose only reason for being there is to prevent any significant action being taken. (Yes, some few Democrats appear to be hangers-on in this endeavor, but they would become a relatively inconsequential group without the cover of their Republican colleagues, and would probably cravenly fall back if forced to stand alone) What we need is strong political leadership out of the White House to back up a feisty Nancy Pelosi.