The Super Congress created by the recent debt ceiling increase deal is a typical example of something nefarious attached to a bigger bill that is rushed through Congress without giving Members ample opportunity to consider the full ramifications. This commission may turn into an early Christmas present for the well-heeled lobbyists of K Street. This is because the commission presents a huge opportunity for lobbying firms to sneak their client’s pet projects and issues into whatever legislation is created by the commission. The fact that automatic cuts to defense are named if the committee deadlocks simply signals to the military industrial complex to bring their A game to the lobbying effort.
One red flag I am constantly aware of in my position as a Congressman is that highly complex and convoluted legislation frequently has dangerous provisions hidden in the fine print. Elaborate legislative packages force lawmakers to take the bad with the good, and often if they refuse, they are accused of voting against the positive provision – never mind the blatant Constitutional violations in the bill, the spending, the waste, and the unchecked expansion of government. I don’t usually have to read too much of a bill like that before encountering something unconstitutional, or simply unwise. Then I have to vote no.
That doesn’t seem to be the case with a majority of legislators, unfortunately. In order to ram through one special interest’s favorable treatment or giveaway, a certain amount of horse-trading is done. The end result is mammoth bills with myriads of unrelated provisions that favor those with the best lobbyists at the expense of everyone else.
The creation of a 12 member committee to preside over $1.5 trillion in spending decisions, and the exclusion of the rest of Congress also means lobbying firms can focus their efforts on an anointed few, which is certainly more manageable for them than having to deal with the entire Congress. Every cut considered will, of course, have a recipient on the other end whose livelihood is being threatened. The probable outcome is that any cuts realized will be more a function of lobbying prowess than the merits or demerits of the actual programs on the chopping block.
Make no mistake – I am enthusiastically for cutting government spending. The goal should be to eventually reduce government down to the size and scope of its constitutional limitations. However, the process of getting there must also be constitutional. Concentrating such special authority to fast track legislation affecting so many special interests to a small, select committee is nothing more than an unprecedented power grab. Only fears of an impending catastrophe could have motivated Members to allow this legislation to be rushed through Congress. The founding fathers had strong feelings about taxation without representation and under no circumstances would they have felt excluding 98% of Congress from fiscal decisions was appropriate.
I see nothing good coming out of this Super Congress. I suspect it will be highly vulnerable to corruption and special interests. No benefit can come from such careless disregard of the Founders’ design.