No sooner had I finished looking at the Senate Democrat picks for the deficit-cutting Super Committee, and encouraging the Republicans to respond with Tea Party Spartans to hold the Hot Gates of government insolvency, than the GOP team was announced. The Spartans were apparently needed elsewhere.
No Rand Paul or Paul Ryan will rip through the tax code with sword and spear, in a slow-motion ballet of fiscal butt kicking. According to a Fox News report, Ryan asked House Speaker John Boehner not to name him to the committee, because he’s got other duties to attend to. That doesn’t exactly fill his admirers with confidence for work of this last-ditch anti-downgrade super team.
We can, however, hope the appointees chosen by Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will rise to the occasion. Heroes are made on battlefields and gridirons. Maybe they can be made on conference tables. In fact, if any of these guys actually jumps on the Super Committee conference table, I’ll take it as an encouraging sign of real progress.
From the Senate, we have Jon Kyl of Airzona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Rob Portman of Ohio. From the House: Jeb Hensarling of Texas, and Dave Camp and Fred Upton of Michigan.
Hensarling heads the House Republican Conference Committee, while Camp and Upton chair House Ways and Means and House Energy and Commerce, respectively. Toomey does own a Tea Party Spartan cloak and shield, and used to be president of the Club for Growth. Kyl was an increasingly unhappy member of Vice President Joe Biden’s deficit reduction group, who quit because “the White House and Democrats are insisting on job-killing tax hikes and new spending.” Camp and Hensarling have faded blue ribbons from the previous high-profile deficit reduction commission, which President Obama occasionally likes to boast about, but resolutely ignored.
As for Upton, he attracts ire from conservatives for his role in the death of the incandescent light bulb, but he’s been doing some fine forensic work during his time with the House Energy committee, whose previously sleepy halls have become a torture chamber for Administration appointees. He released a feisty statement upon his appointment to the Super Committee:
The Budget Control Act made a modest down payment on our debt in the short term and called on Congress – through a Joint Select Committee – to build on those savings with meaningful spending controls and program reforms that will continue the process of putting our fiscal house in order over the long term. I am humbled by the trust Speaker Boehner and our leadership team have placed in us, and I stand ready to serve on the Joint Select Committee alongside Chairman Camp and Chairman Hensarling on behalf of all House Republicans.
Being from Michigan where families have endured 31 consecutive months of double-digit unemployment, I know how important it is to get our economy back on track and get Americans back to work. As someone who worked on the federal budget for President Reagan, I saw firsthand that sound economic policy is the bedrock of job creation and fiscal responsibility. And as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I know the exploding cost of health care is at the root of our long-term fiscal challenges; it’s why our committee has already produced legislation to save taxpayers $90 billion, and that was just the beginning.
Much more needs to be done to bring down health care costs, promote economic growth, and begin to tame runaway government. No one believes this is going to be easy, but working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both Chambers of the Congress, we will work to address our fiscal challenges and get America back to work.
Hensarling has been running a whetstone over his balanced-budget battle axe, saying in a recent press release:
Job creation depends squarely on the confidence of job creators. As long as we keep borrowing 42 cents on the dollar, much of it from the Chinese, and sending the bill to our children and grandchildren, our debt will grow and confidence will shrink. For a permanent cure to Washington’s spending disease we don’t need higher taxes in a so-called ‘balanced’ approach, we need a balanced budget.
I remain committed to fighting for the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution in order to bring back jobs, hope, and opportunity for the America people. The stakes could not be any higher for our nation and our future, which is why I ask that you join my effort and voice your support for this essential addition to our Constitution.
As always, words are the mortar of history, while deeds are the bricks. I can’t say I’ve got high hopes for the Super Committee. Well, not on a personal level. Professionally, it’s going to be a content-generating three-ring circus, and I’m stocking up on popcorn. Nevertheless, I wish Team GOP the best of luck. Remember that America is watching, but inside that conference chamber, it is Sparta.