Published on People’s World, by John Wojcik, January 22, 2010.
(graphic: the Bush deficit).
A group of conservative lawmakers, operating under the radar, is about to hatch yet another scheme and this one would kill a lot more than just health care reform, progressives are warning.
With Medicare, Social Security and jobs programs as their target and under cover of a “deficit commission,” Sens. Kent Conrad, D-ND, and Judd Greg, R-NH, are trying to put in place a system that would allow a select group of lawmakers to bypass the normal legislative process by preventing debate on bills that the group says add to the federal deficit.
Leaders of some 50 organizations declared their opposition to the idea at a news conference Thursday sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future.
They warned that the move to kill the normal democratic process for generating a bill will come up any day now in the Senate, where the Conrad-Judd proposal is part of a bill to raise the debt ceiling. That ceiling will have to be raised if the federal government is to avoid shutting down for lack of funds.
The scheme would forbid any amendments to the new commission’s rulings on particular bills from being proposed in either house of Congress.
Adding to the danger, the progressive leaders warned, is the fact that a minority of pro-austerity, anti-Social Security, anti-Medicare senators is planning to make matters worse by forcing the entire U.S. government into default unless the Senate agrees to a version of the commission proposal that is to their liking …
… Predicting that conservative Democrats will cite the Brown victory in Massachusetts as a reason to back formation of the commission, Gerald Shea, a spokesperson for the AFL-CIO, said, “Deep cuts are wrong-headed in this present atmosphere when voters are demanding action to solve the jobs crisis.”
Hillary Shelton of the NAACP said responsibility for deficit reduction should remain with the democratically elected officials from all over the country and not handed to an elite group of lawmakers. (full text).
(Photo: Of the $9 trillion in deficits projected over the coming decade, nearly $5 trillion comes as a result of failing to pay in the past for just two policies — the Bush tax cuts and the creation of the industry-written Rx drug benefit. $3.5 trillion is a result of lost revenues and mandatory aid for Americans as a result of the Bush economic collapse. As a result, 90% of the projected $9 trillion in deficits is due to Bush policies and the Bush economic collapse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi notes. Source: OMB).