Last weekend, members of the Deficit Commission met with the media. I was in my car on a cross-state trek at the time, but with the glories of XM Radio, I tuned into P.O.T.U.S (channel 132) for the live broadcasts.
Member after member spoke, and what they had to say is easy to summarize.
- All praised the committee’s leadership.
- Most (if not all) said good things about someone else on the committee.
- All addressed the importance of the task.
- All had something to say about health care, social security, and/or tax policy. Interestingly, these comments were predictable based on their party affiliation.
- The number of times I heard “I believe” was staggering.
More interestingly is what I did not hear.
- Not once did I hear, because of the importance of the goal, I will give up (blank).
- Not once did I hear, what is best for the country will outweigh what is best for my party.
I heard a lot of party rhetoric. While one praises for creating social security solvency, another vows to protect social security cuts. The members of this committee brought their sacred cows to this process and were willing to have cows slaughtered as long as it was not their cows, thus a result of nothing more than political theater as the committee failed to approval a proposal.
Rather than facing the challenge and accepting a sacrifice, too many members stood guard in their political rut in order to protect their interests/ideology. The current Capitol Hill climate favors continues to define seizing the moment as compromise agreeing with my interests and beliefs over any pragmatic common ground.
This committee started an adult conversation about the federal deficit, but the report did not make it out of committee because no enough adults were present. Hmmmm … the apparent agreement on the tax cuts that aren’t paid for is interesting timing.
Thank you John Avalon for this column.