Washington Wakes To The Downgrade — And Does Nothing

Business Insider
August 8, 2011

Tens of thousands of congressional staffers, government employees and K-street lobbyists begin their first work-day after Standard and Poor’s downgraded the United States Friday, but elected officials — including the one occupying the White House— are nowhere to be found.

Politicians of both parties are escaping the DC heat and humidity for the month-long August recess, while President Barack Obama is scaling back his public event schedule as his campaign continues fundraising activities.

The S&P action has done little to change the political reality in the near term — that Congress is taking a vacation while leaving half-a-dozen jobs bills and the federal budget incomplete. And for the next month, there will be no response from Washington other than the blame game.

Neither party is quite sure how the public is reacting to news of the downgrade, with Republicans criticizing Democrats, and Democrats criticizing S&P.

For Obama the downgrade is a massive liability, as he is the most visible member of a government now deemed to be at some risk of not meeting its obligations. Republicans are on the hook for their opposition to tax reforms, cited by S&P as a key factor in the decision to strip the U.S. of its ‘AAA’ rating.

Looking ahead, the downgrade puts new pressures on the “Super Committee,” created less than a week ago to cut $1.5 trillion from the deficit, to exceed its goal by as much as $2 trillion to meet the S&P’s target.

Hopes for the bipartisan group dimmed last week, as Republicans and Democrats waged a public battle over the need for revenue-raising reforms and whether to include entitlement spending as part of the discussions.

S&P said it doubts that a serious attempt at either will succeed. Ratings officials even threatened a second downgrade if the committee failed to meet its statutory requirements, despite the triggered cuts that would take effect.

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Super Congress A Gift to K Street

by Rep. Ron Paul

The Super Congress created by the recent debt ceiling increase deal is a typical example of something nefarious attached to a bigger bill that is rushed through Congress without giving Members ample opportunity to consider the full ramifications.  This commission may turn into an early Christmas present for the well-heeled lobbyists of K Street.  This is because the commission presents a huge opportunity for lobbying firms to sneak their client’s pet projects and issues into whatever legislation is created by the commission.   The fact that automatic cuts to defense are named if the committee deadlocks simply signals to the military industrial complex to bring their A game to the lobbying effort.

One red flag I am constantly aware of in my position as a Congressman is that highly complex and convoluted legislation frequently has dangerous provisions hidden in the fine print.  Elaborate legislative packages force lawmakers to take the bad with the good, and often if they refuse, they are accused of voting against the positive provision – never mind the blatant Constitutional violations in the bill, the spending, the waste, and the unchecked expansion of government.  I don’t usually have to read too much of a bill like that before encountering something unconstitutional, or simply unwise.  Then I have to vote no.

That doesn’t seem to be the case with a majority of legislators, unfortunately.  In order to ram through one special interest’s favorable treatment or giveaway, a certain amount of horse-trading is done.  The end result is mammoth bills with myriads of unrelated provisions that favor those with the best lobbyists at the expense of everyone else.

The creation of a 12 member committee to preside over $1.5 trillion in spending decisions, and the exclusion of the rest of Congress also means lobbying firms can focus their efforts on an anointed few, which is certainly more manageable for them than having to deal with the entire Congress.  Every cut considered will, of course, have a recipient on the other end whose livelihood is being threatened.  The probable outcome is that any cuts realized will be more a function of lobbying prowess than the merits or demerits of the actual programs on the chopping block.

Make no mistake – I am enthusiastically for cutting government spending.   The goal should be to eventually reduce government down to the size and scope of its constitutional limitations.  However, the process of getting there must also be constitutional.  Concentrating such special authority to fast track legislation affecting so many special interests to a small, select committee is nothing more than an unprecedented power grab.  Only fears of an impending catastrophe could have motivated Members to allow this legislation to be rushed through Congress.  The founding fathers had strong feelings about taxation without representation and under no circumstances would they have felt excluding 98% of Congress from fiscal decisions was appropriate.

I see nothing good coming out of this Super Congress.  I suspect it will be highly vulnerable to corruption and special interests.  No benefit can come from such careless disregard of the Founders’ design.

Debt Deal Surprise # 1: Unconstitutional “Super Congress”

Unconstitutional body created by debt deal to get “even greater super powers”

Infowars.com
August 1, 2011

The so-called “Super Congress” that is about to be created with the debt ceiling vote will have powers far beyond just controlling the nation’s purse strings – its authority will extend to target the second amendment – eviscerating normal protections that prevent unconstitutional legislation from being fast-tracked into law.

As the Huffington Post reported last month, the debt deal that has already been passed by the House and faces the Senate tomorrow will create an unconstitutional “Super Congress” that will be comprised of six Republicans and six Democrats and granted “extraordinary new powers” to quickly force legislation through both chambers.

Legislation decided on by the Super Congress would be immune from amendment and lawmakers would only be able to register an up or down vote, eliminating the ability to filibuster. The Speaker of the House would effectively lose the power to prevent unpopular bills from making it to the House floor.

But far from just being a committee that would make recommendations concerning the debt ceiling, the body is now to be granted “even greater super powers, according to multiple news reports and congressional aides with knowledge of the plan,” writes Michael McAuliff.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled no punches in making it plain that the Super Congress would have supreme authority. “The joint committee — there are no constraints,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “They can look at any program we have in government, any program. … It has the ability to look at everything.”

That includes introducing laws to restrict the second amendment, states a Gun Owners of America bulletin, warning that the body would be “a super highway for gun control legislation”.

“Gun owner registration … bans on semi-automatic firearms … adoption of a UN gun control treaty — all of these issues could very well be decided over the next 24 hours,” states the GOA release.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) echoed Reid’s sentiment, asserting that the Super Congress was “not a commission, this is a powerful, joint committee.”

The Obama administration has already indicated that it will take the deciding vote as the de facto 13th member of the Super Congress. During his press briefing today, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the government would work with the Super Congress to hike taxes in 2012 and beyond.

Barack Obama has already exercised his fetish for executive autonomy by launching the attack on Libya without Congressional approval, bypassing Congress and having the EPA declare carbon dioxide a pollutant, as well as the appointment of ten state governors directly selected by him who will work with the federal government to help advance the “synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States”.

The administration’s zeal to target the second amendment “under the radar,” as Obama promised earlier this year, has also manifested itself in the form of ATF harassment of gun owners who purchase two or more firearms, despite the fact that the law to mandate such a policy failed to pass.

The establishment of a “Super Congress” will completely demolish the credibility and the authority of the system of elected representatives. It represents another final nail in the coffin of the American Republic and its replacement with an executive dictatorship run by the political elite.