Eight days left: Was super committee a bad idea from the start?
As the Nov. 23 deadline to propose a plan to trim $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit approaches, many in Congress are saying that that super committee should never have been created.
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But there is some evidence that members took voluntary action to scale back fundraising activities. Five of the six senators on the super committee raised considerably less money in the third quarter of this year – that is, after they began serving on the panel – than in the second. Four saw decreases of more than 60 percent, according to a report by the Sunlight Foundation.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Who's who on the US deficit super committee
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Still, since the panel did not adopt any formal rules limiting fundraising, activists remain worried.
“From AARP to health care and defense, the lobbying of the super committee could end up being bigger than what we saw for health-care reform and banking reform,” says Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation. “At this point, due to the absolute lack of transparency, we don’t have a good sense of where it’s going.”
That sense of being out of the loop on critical tax and spending issues is also wearing on members of Congress. “We’re not meant to be an outsider looking in,” says Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) of Ohio. “I don’t like the super committee: It’s not transparent. It’s an insider’s game. It’s a subversion of the normal legislative process.”
In a new CNN poll, 78 percent of respondents say that it’s unlikely that the committee will develop a plan to significantly reduce the federal budget deficit by its Nov. 23 deadline. Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle acknowledge that negotiations are at a very difficult point. Last week, Republicans made an offer to increase taxes by some $300 billion. Democrats say that’s not enough, but have yet to make a counter offer.
“Failure can’t be an option,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia, at a bipartisan rally he helped organize to encourage the super committee to “go big” and find a deficit-reduction package in the $4 trillion range. Some 150 members of Congress, including 45 senators and more than 100 House members, have backed a letter calling on the super committee to “go big” and keep all options on the table. That includes tax hikes opposed by GOP leaders and entitlement cuts opposed by Democrats.
“Whether we like it or not, this debt and deficit debate has become, in effect, a proxy for whether our democratic institutions are up to the job in the 21st century,” he added.
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