Monday, August 15, 2011

Joint Congressional Committee to Dismantle America

There is a lot more riding on the new Super Duper Debt Committee than has been acknowledged - more than just tinkering with multi-trillion dollar spending cuts.  As the Committee can be expected to increase its charge to cut an additional $1.5 trillion (on top of $1 T cuts to take effect Oct 1st at the start of the 2012 fiscal year), Sen. Kerry, on the weekend he was appointed, suggested that a $4 trillion cut previously requested by President Obama, appeared necessary.

What the President, Sen. Kerry, the Senate's top multi-bazillionaire and others on the Committee are not aware of is that the proposed cuts represent a fundamental shift in American society that will fuel a desperation and anger - one that promises to be deeply profound and more than worrisome.       

On his mid west bus tour, Obama's rebuke to public union employees to 'share the burden" is a further indication that even before Members of the new Debt Committee were announced, it was a foregone conclusion that there would be at least one potential Democratic cross-over vote and that given narrow-minded Republican obstinacy, the six Democrats on the Committee would be the first to blink.  

After more than two years of being embarrassed and out-maneuvered by a more committed minority, Senate Democrats can be expected to seek ‘bi-partisan cooperation’ as they sacrifice, amidst a great display of hand wringing,  significant portions of the Big Three social safety net programs in order to ‘save’ them for the future – something akin to ‘we had to burn the village in order to save it’ mentality.   Now that the list of Committee Members is public, it is apparent that the individual names are largely irrelevant since the Republicans would only necessarily appoint intractable right wing Grover Norquist toadies pledged to ‘no new taxes or die’ (politically speaking) and that Minority Leader Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid were always going to
appoint party loyalists including at least one ‘flipper’ – which is essentially what they did.  Democratic appointees out of what Paul Wellstone used to call the 'democratic wing of the Democratic party" were passed over. 

A product of the Budget Control Act which President Obama signed to raise the debt ceiling, the new Super Joint Select Committee to Dismantle America, oops I mean Deficit Reduction Committee consists of twelve Members including three Republicans Senators and three Republican House Members and an equivalent number from the Democrats.  The Committee has an extremely narrow window in which to approve the $1.5 trillion by Thanksgiving before a ‘trigger’ is activated.  If the trigger is pulled, then a full range of across-the-board cuts will occur with no new revenues as part of the ‘compromise’.   The Committee’s recommendation needs only a majority of one to be approved and will immediately be sent to the House and Senate for its rubber stamp with no public hearing, no amendments, no filibuster and no debate.

In any other western country, it would be a matter of outrage that the Democrats in Congress agreed to establish such an undemocratic legislative 'advisory' body in the first place but who can remember any compromise ever proposed without Democrats offering the shirt off their backs.   Were those 95 House Democrats and 46 Senate Democrats who supported the egregious debt ceiling bill aware that they were handing over their own fiduciary responsibility and that by allowing this hand-picked group to form, Congress was abdicating its Constitutional authority?  If not, they should be fired for not paying attention and if they were aware, they should still be fired for betraying the Constitution.     

With after-debt-ceiling polls showing that 82% of American public have no faith in Congress, a good question  might be What the Hell is Wrong with These People? On August 2, 2011, 94 House Progressive Democrats (including Rep. Becerra)  and a mere 7 Senate Democrats voted against the Debt Ceiling which authorized the Super Committee. This is not the first time Congress has acquiesced to the Executive Branch when, in recent weeks, Obama was allowed to wage war in Libya without legal authorization at a cost of $1 billion.   Republicans who continue to impress with an utter lack of intellectual capacity,  would like nothing better than to further weaken the country’s institutions of government to the point of extinction.   

Civil libertarians already alarmed by a steady deterioration under Obama point out the congruence of the Super Committee with the Enabling Act of 1933 which formally eliminated the Reichstag’s Constitutional role as it ceded its legislative authority to the German Chancellor.  The vote was 441 in favor while 84 Social Democrats voted NO with Otto Wels making the sole principled stand in opposition on the floor of the Reichstag.    

And yet with nary a word of informative analysis, neither the ‘lame stream’ nor its liberal media peers have flagged the Constitutional threat to representative government posed by the Committee.   

Potential No. 1 Flipper is Sen. Max Baucus, a proven corporate Democrat who presided over the Budget Committee (with authority over Medicare and Medicaid) in 2009 as Dr. Margaret Flowers and others were arrested as they protested not being allowed to testify in support of universal health care – and not one Democrat or Republican on the Committee that day protested. 

Even as Obama originally requested a $500 billion Pentagon cut, a pulled trigger would cut a mere $350 billion over ten years, hardly an injurious dent in their war-making capacity.  With multinational defense contractors like Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin located  in every state represented by Members of the Committee, political pressure and scare tactics exaggerating the impacts of ‘doomsday’ cuts are building to spare the Pentagon as many Americans contemplate eating cat food.

If there is any expectation that the Committee (Sens. Portman (Oh), Toomey (Pa)  and Kyl (Ariz) and House Republicans Reps. Hensarling (Tx), Upton (Mich) and Camp ( Mich) will be join by Sens. Kerry (Mass), Baucus (Mont) Murray (Wash) and House Democrats Reps. Clyburn (SC), Van Hollen (Md) and Bcerra.(Calif).will act independently in the best interests of the American people, think again.   According to the Center for Responsive Politics, each member of the Committee receives a majority of campaign funds from Business Political Action Committees such as:  Reps. Clyburn 75%, Van Hollen 56% and Becerra 72% with Sens. Murray 58%, Baucus, 84%, and Kerry at 72% with labor unions running a distant second.   On the Republican side, Reps. Hensarling PAC donors were 100% business, Upton 95%, and Camp 96% with Sens. Kyl at 87%, Portman 83% and Toomey 75%.

As the American economy hangs in the balance, consider the influence of the Financial, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) Sector which reaps bazillions in interest payments on loans to States and sovereign governments around the globe and has given the most campaign contributions to a majority of Committee Members:  Clyburn $1.6 M, Van Hollen $1.2 M, Becerra $1.3 M with Sens. Murray $3.1 M, Baucus $5.3 M and Kerry $21 M.   Republican Reps. pulled in from FIRE :  Hensarling $3.5 M, Camp $2.3 M and Upton $1 M with Sens. Kyl $4.3 M, Toomey $3 M and Portman with $4 M.     

As the Committee can be expected to favor funding Obama's multi-international wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya over preserving programs that directly benefit the American people, there is no public figure on the horizon to articulate a massive revenue generating alternative such as taxing Wall Street profits.  The final Committee recommendations, severe and heartless, can be expected to generate a profound sense of national loss, that a once scruffy nation, brave and proud, is now bereft of its republican roots. Once an experiment in participatory democracy, always more perfect in its promise than practice, is now distorted by increased violence and anarchy in the streets, imposition of urban curfews and an erosion of democratic institutions that has taken more than 200 years to build. 


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