During the 'debate' over raising the debt ceiling, the partisan screamers reached an all-time high level of volume. The reactions to various proposals showed very little consideration, and a great deal of hyperbolic hysteria, leading me to dub our country 'America the ungovernable.' There is a great deal of criticism of politicians, but it seems that no matter what actions they take there will be anger and outrage. It's no wonder they prefer naming post offices and celebrating birthdays.
The idea of the Congressional 'super committee' was a good example. Before the idea was even fleshed out, the screams of unconstitutionality, of political capitulation, and of legislative buck-passing raged in a firestorm through the blogosphere. All criticisms that only highlighted the state of public ignorance, where effective action is demanded, but new ideas are lambasted. In an added bit of irony, the super committee would address several of the issues that Americans have long been complaining about.
First, the super committee is not an end-run around the Constitution. It's simply another version of the legislative committees that have existed as long as Congress. What is new is how the legislation it passes will be treated in the full Congress. No amendments will be allowed. This will limit debate, and the opportunity to filibuster, so that Congress simply votes on the bill, and it passes or it doesn't. This is exactly the kind of process most Americans have been clamoring for during the past few years. Of course, now that Congress has come up with a way to accomplish it, most Americans are clamoring against it. The super committee means cleaner bills, and a cleaner legislative process.
It also means truly bipartisan legislation, by definition. If there is no agreement, there is no legislation. Leaving aside that America has more than two political factions, bipartisan legislation means that anything the committee passes will not experience the legislative merry-go-round of the various debt ceiling proposals. There won't be legislation proposed by leadership only to find they don't have support in their own caucus.
Finally, and most importantly, it provides political coverage from the hyper-partisans. This is what most people miss. A super committee, passing truly bipartisan, fast-tracked legislation, may be our best defense against the extremists. Super committee legislation would represent the best possible compromise, providing political cover to those that are willing to break away from the most extreme ideals of their political base. Those legislators will be able to say, "this may not be everything we want to do, but this is what we can do right now." The inverse is that any legislation passed will expose the extremists in all their intransigent glory. Super committee legislation is by definition the best possible compromise, the legislation with the best possibility of passing through a divided Congress to the President's desk. The alternative will be for Congress to do nothing; there will be no alternative with any chance of success. Then the extremists will have to explain why they prefer birthday parties and naming ceremonies to solving the nation's problems.
The super committee will limit extraneous debate, limit filibustering, and limit unrelated amendments. There won't be abortion amendments to debt reduction bills. It will produce legislation that actually has a chance of passing a sharply divided government. It will provide political cover to the rational, and it will expose the intransigence of the irrational. There may be issues with member selection, and the parameters of the issues to be considered, but that is a matter for considered discussion, not hyper-partisan nay-saying.
Rational Progressive Party
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