The bills that have been proposed by Republican and Democratic leadership to raise the debt ceiling putting an an to this wholly manufactured crisis, differ little and both will be devastating to most Americans. One of the commonalities is the creation of a bipartisan commission of 12 that on first glance seems innocuous but on looking closer, it is quite toxic and may even be unconstitutional. This “super committee” will be equally comprised of Democrats and Republicans members of congress. Who and how they will be selected is unclear but considering the current corporate owned, deficit hawk nature of both sides, I suspect it will be their worst conservative “cut spending/no revenue ghouls”.
At first glance, this sounds like the President’s Deficit Commission that couldn’t produce recommendations even 14 of the 18 members could agree. The co-chairs, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and former Clinton Chief of Staff and South Carolina businessman, Erskine Bowles wrote there own recommendations and ran it up the flagpole. Needless to say President Obama saluted and embraced the draconian principles that it enshrined, such as decimating Medicare and Medicaid and drastic cuts to Social Security. The “Catfood Commission”, however, had no “teeth”, everything that was suggested would have to be passed as a bill. This new commission is another game and will have the force of law behind it.
Ryan Grimm at Huffington Post has the best description of how this “new congress” will function and just how powerful it will be:
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.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has made a Super Congress a central part of his last-minute proposal, multiple news reports and people familiar with his plan say. A picture of Boehner’s proposal began to come into focus Saturday evening: The debt ceiling would be raised for a short-term period and coupled with an equal dollar figure of cuts, somewhere in the vicinity of a trillion dollars over ten years. A second increase in the debt ceiling would be tied to the creation of a Super Congress that would be required to find a minimum amount of spending cuts. Because the elevated panel would need at least one Democratic vote, its plan would presumably include at least some revenue, though if it’s anything like the deals on the table today, it would likely be heavily slanted toward spending cuts.
The tea party Republicans in the House have informed Speaker John Boehner that the commission is totally unacceptable to them. There main objection is they feel it could lead to tax increases. Other critics from the right like Eric Erickson of Red State are opposed mostly because it just ads another costly layer to the bureaucracy that won’t work. From the left, Rep Barney Frank (D-MA) and MoveOn.org expressed concerns that it would cut the big three social safety nets and the idea that it would supersede congress’s parliamentary power.
The ratings agencies have said that the Boehner bill will result in a ratings downgrade since it only raised the debt ceiling by $1 trillion which will require another cap raise in 5 months, creating uncertainty in the bond market. The White House has embraced the Reid version which would move the need raising the ceiling again past 2012 which is more acceptable to the ratings agencies who think the ceiling should just be removed entirely.
This is going to the wire with both sides deadlocked and hamstrung by a small loud and incredibly stupid minority and ineffective leaderchip on both sides.