Jewish World Review August 15, 2011 / 15 Menachem-Av, 5771
Pray for miracle from debt committee
By Dan K. Thomasson
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The odds of anything serious coming out of the so-called Super Committee -- the 12 -member bipartisan panel to solve the debt crisis -- have never been very good but looking at the appointments so far to this entirely unusual body about the only thing left to do is pray for a miracle.
All six of the Republicans previously have pledged to oppose any new taxes in the effort to lower the deficit by $1.5 trillion by Thanksgiving. How encouraging is that? These are some of the same guys whose stubbornness over raising the debt limit brought on one of the worst congressional debacles in recent memory. That disgraceful performance helped bring about Standard and Poor's outrageous decision to lower the nation's credit rating, a major factor in the current market crisis that has cost American investors billions of dollars over the last few days.
Utterly ignored by leaders of both sides in their Senate appointments to the committee were the "Gang of Six" Republicans and Democrats who had worked so diligently for compromise during the debt limit negotiations. How tragic for all of us.
In the House, the GOP co-chair of the panel will be a champion of those who believe the huge deficit requires only severe spending cuts. His name is Jeb Hensarling and he is from Texas. Ever hear of him? Probably not. For all anyone knows his name may mean "head in the sand." He will be joined by two men from Michigan, Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, both of whom also take a dim view of the word "taxation."
The Senate's three Republicans named to this august body by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky include John Kyl of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania who the Tea Party helped elect last year. Want to guess how they are going to come down on such issues as raising revenues even slightly? I'll give you a hint and let you decide. Toomey was the only member of the panel named so far who actually voted against raising the debt limit, a position that ultimately would have left the nation in default of its financial obligations.
If that isn't enough to turn the drinking water toxic in the Capitol Hill fountains, good old Democratic majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada, that glorious statesman who got reelected last year only because the Republicans nominated a novice opponent with the political acumen of a desert rattler, named as co-chair Patty Murray of Washington, who also is charged as the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee with raising funds for her party's candidates next year.
In that uber-partisan capacity, Murray regularly tosses verbal bombs at her Republican opponents, accusing them among other things of plotting to destroy Medicare and Social Security. How's that for a good starting point for bipartisanship? She is as much committed to the status quo in the entitlement programs as the GOP members are to fighting tax increases.
The other Democrats from the Senate will be former presidential nominee John Kerry of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who at times definitely has shown a proclivity for compromise.
The projections for success have been slim to none from the beginning, but if these appointments can be used as any indication, they will never reach the seven votes needed to prevent an onslaught of automatic cuts that few Americans will like. That is the worst-case scenario.
The best is that they will come to their senses, put away their special interests, and do what is desperately needed to head us toward a growing economy, solvency and most of all, jobs. If you are a betting person, be careful before you put your money down, either way.
There are few experts, if any, who don't agree that a solution to all this only can be found in a combination that includes pursuing more revenue, slowing the growth of entitlements and cutting spending. It isn't rocket science as much as the fiscal gurus would like you to believe it is. It's a foreign word -- compromise.
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