Why is the work of the so-called Super Congress deficit panel going to be conducted in secret as if its members were planning a covert military operation?
Do you buy the idea that these decisions its members have to make, which are supposed to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years, are just so tough that if they do it in public they’ll just never get it done?
Do you think that secrecy is designed to protect your interests?
I don’t. The Super-Congress is just the latest example of the fear on steroids politics that our leaders have come to rely on when they shove something nasty down our throats. By now the formula is familiar: create a crisis, warn of dire consequences, limit information and debate.
Meanwhile behind the curtain the politicians can wheel and deal with the lobbyists and bankers who fund their careers. According to them, all theses issues are just too complicated for us common folk to contemplate.
The only thing this secrecy protects is the interests of the lobbyists and the politicians who want to cut their deals without the glare of publicity or the inconvenience of accountability when they sell out the interests of their constituents in favor of their corporate contributors.
The Super-Congress is a microcosm of all the issues raised by the infusion of massive corporate cash and influence into our politics, as well as the poisonous impact of the revolving door between Congress and the businesses that lobby it.
While the president has been railing about the influence of money in politics, his own party has made sure that their top fund-raisers have seats at the Super-Congress table, like Sen. Max Baucus (whose top fundraiser Jim Messina was so good Obama hired him away for his presidential campaign, and Sen. Patty Murray, who also happens to chair the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which means it up to her to lead the party’s fundraising efforts to maintain its Senate majority.
The Republicans have also deployed top money-getters like Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who’s vice-chair of the House financial services committees, a traditional money magnet, which has worked well for Hensarling, who since 2009 has snagged at least $35,000 from the giant auditing firm KPMG, another $35,000 from UBS bank and $32,500 from Bank of America.
Who do you think will have access to Baucus, Murray and Hensarling while the Super-Congress deliberates behind closed doors? Ordinary Americans, or those who can make significant contributions to Baucus and Murray’s fundraising efforts?
In response to these potential conflicts, the Project on Government Oversight and other open government groups wrote to congressional leaders urging maximum transparency.
As Bill Buzenberg summed it up in the Guardian, “Over the years, Washington has evolved into a highly oiled special-interest machine, plying candidates with money, on one hand, and grooming insiders to help close the deal, on the other. So far, this ethically corrupt system has proven extraordinarily resistant to reform.”
In response to these potential conflicts, the Project on Government Oversight and other open government groups wrote to congressional leaders urging maximum transparency so that the rest of us can see and read exactly what’s going on. Contact your representative and demand that the Super-Congress conduct our business in public view, the way democracy is supposed to work.