From Hostage Taking to Hijacking

When word first began leaking out during the debt ceiling negotiations that the proposed agreement would create a so-called "super Congress" to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit, there was reason for both concern and skepticism.  The very idea that the Congress would agree to abrogate its representative duties and responsibilities, and empower a glorified committee to do the dirty work of  party elites, is unsettling to say the least.  On the other hand, the creation of joint committees, commissions and so on, is standard practice in the legislature, which may of course determine the rules of its own proceedings.  Perhaps the term "super Congress" was just a poor locution, or sloppy journalistic shorthand, or a poorly chosen but pithy sound bite favored by some group of lawmakers.  And, indeed, the proposed body is now commonly being referred to as a "super committee" or simply as a "joint committee."  Yet, is there any reason to give the representatives of the ruling political class any benefit of the doubt?  Ron Paul argues that the "super committee" is patently unconstitutional.  From CNBC:
The "super Congress" committee of 12 that will decide on budget cuts by Thanksgiving as part of the debt ceiling agreement is unconstitutional, Rep. Ron Paul told CNBC Thursday. "I don’t think there’s any doubt about it," said the Texas Republican, who is running for president.

"I would challenge it in the courts," he added. "I would say it is not a constitutional function. There’s no authority to have a 'superCongress' who takes over what the House [of Representatives] is supposed to do" in handling the nation's purse strings.

Democratic and GOP leaders of the House and Senate are expected to each name three lawmakers to form the new 12-member committee in the next couple of weeks. The committee will have until Thanksgiving to come up with a way to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit over the next decade.
Paul added that nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it say a committee can make budgetary decisions "and then pop something back into the House and Senate and say, 'You have an up or down vote, you can’t take it to a subcommittee or full committee, you can’t negotiate it.' You don’t know what’s going on there."
The form and makeup of the committee succinctly demonstrate the way in which the two-party system has effectively undermined constitutional government in the United States.  It will have twelve members, six from each party, with party leaders in each chamber appointing three members from their own caucus.  Of course, the parties are not equally represented in either chamber of the legislature, and the constitution does not establish the two chambers of the legislature on an equal footing.  Pretending that a strictly bipartisan, bicameral "super committee" is representative of the American people or even the legislature itself is an exercise in self-delusion, a crass utilitarian fiction.

By the end of the debt ceiling debate, it had become commonplace to describe negotiating tactics on both sides of the duopoly divide as "hostage taking."  None of those hostages – namely, the American people – have been released.  Indeed, the terrorist operation now appears to be moving into its second phase.  The "super Congress" is a hijacking of the Congress by the ruling elites in the Democratic and Republican parties.  And they didn't even need box cutters.  At World Net Daily, Alan Keyes argues that the debt ceiling deal and "super committee" approved by  the Democratic and Republican parties demonstrate, once more, that it is time to move beyond the two-party charade.  Excerpt:
The partisan farce wasn't just much ado about almost nothing. In fact, if allowed to stand, the only concrete outcome of the otherwise pantomime process deserves to be call "historic," but in the desperately bad sense that it may have produced the first audible death rattle of representative government in the United States. I'm referring, of course, to the so-called "super committee" devised as cover for the implementation of Mitch McConnell's scheme to wrest the initiative in fiscal matters from the representatives of the people in the House. 

In effect, this super committee will function as a budget politburo, meant to assure that for the foreseeable future a little clique of elite faction fellow travelers usurp in fiscal matters the legislative role of the body that most nearly represents the people. 

I believe that this mechanism inaugurates a process that is meant to place Congress on the road to extinction. It will cease in any real sense to be a legislative body. It will become an administrative appendage, providing window dressing for a politburo style of government increasingly emancipated from any control, involvement or effective influence by the people . . .
We must kick our addiction to the twin-party sham; prove that we have the discipline, clarity and courage to go cold turkey. And do it in a fashion so grand and unmistakable that we will finally convince ourselves. To achieve this goal, people acting in the true Tea Party spirit will have to focus with laser-like intensity on one political goal between now and Election Day in 2012 – to throw the twin parties overboard
Even those delusional individuals who, for some reason that is virtually beyond rational conception, continue to support the Democrat-Republican two-party charade have begun to question the sanity of maintaining the two-party state.  From Ezra Klein:
Those in Congress who want action — and they are of both parties — manufacture crises in order to force it. It’s not that things don’t get done so much as that they get done in the most dangerous, insane and reckless way. And if that fails and they don’t get done, they trigger awful, unimaginable crises.  At some point, isn’t it time to admit that this system is broken?
Of course, the only people who refuse to admit that "this system is broken" are the dead-enders of the Democratic and Republican parties themselves, and it seems like there are fewer and fewer of them every day.  Nonetheless, it is easy to fathom why party elites would continue to deny this obvious reality: it is in their interests.  

Update: By the way, obviously, Ron Paul and Alan Keyes are coming from libertarian-leaning Republican and Independent conservative positions, respectively.  But progressive-leaning Democrats and independents have been equally critical of the debt ceiling agreement and, at least initially, of the "super Congress".  Anyone been following what the latter folks have been saying about the "super committee" since the agreement was signed into law? 


TiradeFaction said...

For a more Independent progressive slant, these two articles should help

Somewhat typical calls to preserve SS and Medicare, but deals with the debt talks and "Super congress" to a degree.

Better article from similar slant on the issue directly.

There's also Democracy Now!'s coverage.

Hope these helped!

TiradeFaction said...

Sorry....meant three...