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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Super Committee of One

Grover Norquist
The way things are going, it looks like the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (i.e., the "super committee") will be able to accomplish one thing -- reinforce my belief that Blue Ribbon Panels are useless. When that panel is advisory -- think the 9/11 commission -- their recommendations are generally ignored. When that panel is legislative, the results are no different from what the full congress would achieve. In the latter case, it's like a poll; you take aside a smaller sample of the larger group and find that the opinions break down pretty much the same way and in the same proportion. So, if congress is deadlocked, creating a smaller version of congress from that same congress isn't going to make things any easier. All you've really done is take that deadlock and concentrate it. With seven days to go until a deadline, the super committee is spinning its wheels.

How depressingly predictable.

Steve Benen reports that Republicans are actually fighting amongst themselves over the method to trim $1.2 trillion from the deficit. The bad news is that neither camp is willing to accept a deal that doesn't include tax cuts. That's right, a committee that's designed to reduce the deficit is also supposed to produce tax cuts somehow. "The GOP divide is between right-wing members (those willing to trade $250 billion in new revenue for $3.7 trillion in tax cuts, mostly benefiting the wealthy) and very right-wing members (those who want to reduce the debt without accepting any revenue at all)," he writes. Math hates Republicans.

At the center of all this is a nasty, corrupt individual named Grover Norquist.


Huffington Post:

A new wave of pessimism colored super committee talks on Tuesday as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blasted anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist for meddling with the panel's progress and suggested that the American public "impeach" him.

During a stakeout with reporters, Reid read aloud part of an interview Norquist did with The Hill on Monday in which Norquist said Republican leaders in both chambers promised him they wouldn't accept a debt reduction deal that included tax hikes

"It won't pass the House or the Senate," Norquist, who is the president of the advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, said in the interview. "I've talked to the House leadership and the Senate leadership. They're not going to be passing any tax increases."

Conservatives like to complain about "unelected" leaders who influence the legislative process. They even get worked up over "unelected judges," as if this was some sort of technicality and not the way the Constitution was written. But the truth is that Republicans love the unelected. In 2004, lobbyists wrote the "Clear Skies Act" and Republicans thought that was just the best thing ever. Letting lobbyists write GOP bills hasn't stopped since. And here they are again, allowing an unelected lobbyist to dictate US economic policy.

So add one more to the list of reasons why Blue Ribbon panels never work; the unelected people Republicans answer to never sit on those committees. You can't negotiate with a sock puppet.


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