Is it Open? Is it Transparent? No, it’s Super Congress!
Superman had a lot of power, but I don’t recall him ever having the opportunity to reduce the U.S. debt by $1.2 trillion. Twelve “Super” members of Congress will soon have that chance when the newly created “Super Congress” is formed.
The “Super Congress” is a bi-product of the recent debt ceiling bill. Part of the compromise by Washington debt hike advocates to get the bill through was the creation of a special Joint Committee of a dozen members to identify more than a trillion dollars in cuts to reduce the national deficit over the next decade. The problem is, just like the debt ceiling deal itself was done in the dark, this super-powered committee is set to do its dealings with the shades drawn.
Normally, coming from the laptop of this MHPC employee and Open Government advocate, this would be a big problem. But this time, it’s a Super-sized problem. As I mentioned before, this deficit slashing committee yields an awful lot of power. It is tasked with identifying these debt reductions by Thanksgiving, and whatever recommendations they come up with, go straight to the floor for a vote, with no chance for amendments or filibusters. So it is quite possible that whatever this committee of a dozen recommends is what will be passed. (Note: tax increase are on the table!). Super power for a “Super Congress”.
Right now, the “Super Congress” is set to operate in the dark. Only the committee’s very first meeting, its final recommendations and the final vote on those recommended cuts are required to be public. Where’s the sunshine? What about our right to know? That’s completely unacceptable, and downright shameful. After the debacle of transparency that was Obamacare, and a debt deal that was less than transparent, this process MUST BE open to the public.
Fortunately, some real transparency Super Hero’s jumped into the fight for sunlight on Wednesday. Six senators, including New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, sent a letter to senate leaders calling for an open process to identify the $1.2 million in cuts. One of the key demands from these friends of open government was that all proceedings be open to the public and broadcast on television. Legislation to require this transparency in statute has also been introduced.
This needs to happen. It’s our right as taxpayers to know what politicians will do with $1.2 trillion of our hard-earned tax dollars.
That’s why MHPC has urged our own U.S. Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, to join this transparency movement and help ensure the public is invited into the process.
We shouldn’t need Superman’s X-ray vision to see what happens to $1.2 trillion of our own money. The public should have access to every second of every meeting. Without that openness, this Super committee is just Super Bad.
Posted on Aug 05, 2011
It's not at all unusual to have joint House-Senate committees that work in private, particularly on Intelligence as well as fiscal and budgetary matters. Can you think a single House-Senate committee that worked on budgetary matters in public? If so, when was that? The annual conference committees that put together the nation's budget work in private and usually there are no amendments allowed for them in the House and they are not subject to filibuster in the Senate. So, while it's not a bad idea, it would be a new precedent.
Posted on Aug 05, 2011
Amy, I'm glad you think a more open and accountable government is "not a bad idea". If it truly is a "new precedent" it's one that is long overdue.
Posted on Aug 05, 2011
Congress will vote on the proposal and people vote for their representatives. That's the system of accountability of the US Constitution, a document developed behind closed, locked doors and then sent to the states for ratification. Evidently the founders and every Congress since the Constitution's ratification have done it all wrong.
Posted on Aug 21, 2011
It's sad that with as many bright minds that are in our government they cannot see the need for cutting taxes. Cutting taxes not only relieves some stress on the taxpayer, it also requires the government to be more savvy about the way they spend their money. Get more bang for the buck, that should be the thinking. Personal responsibility should be handed back to the taxpayer, citizens' right to "the pursuit of happiness" is protected by the government. Notice the word "pursuit" rather than the word "guarantee". Government has taken over the role that private charities once had in taking care of the sick and poor. That's what they did back in the Founders' day. If we could get the those in office to see that, perhaps we could shift the idea of taxes to maintaining roads, etc. rather than government funded charities. The cutting of taxes would ultimately bring about government transparency by forcing those in office to be smarter about what they do with monies they are given.