Political Animal


August 10, 2011 12:40 PM Republicans announce ‘Super Committee’ selections

By Steve Benen

Senate Democrats got the ball rolling late yesterday, and Republicans in the House and Senate followed up this morning.

House Speaker John Boehner said he’s tapped House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, to serve as co-chair of the committee. He’s also appointing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., to the committee, as well as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s appointing Sens. Jon Kyl, Ariz., Pat Toomey, Pa., and Rob Portman, Ohio.

There aren’t any major surprises here — GOP leaders picked six very conservative white men; who would have guessed? — though House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was expected to get one of the slots. Nevertheless, let’s take a moment to note some of the first thoughts after glancing at the new list:

* Jeb Hensarling is a prominent right-wing Texan who has a bad habit of saying dumb things. Given the nature of this panel’s work, it’s worth noting that Hensarling has described Social Security and Medicare as “cruel ponzi schemes.” He’s the GOP pick for co-chair of the committee.

* Dave Camp is the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and a rather generic Republican, though he does seem to believe working families don’t pay enough in taxes.

* Fred Upton was known as a relative moderate, until his party fell off the right-wing cliff, at which point he jumped, too.

* Jon Kyl is a far-right GOP leader who strongly believes Congress “should never have to offset” the cost of tax cuts, because the Tax Fairy magically ensures they pay for themselves. As part of the recent debt-reduction talks, Kyl ruled out any attempts to increase revenue and demanded $6 trillion in cuts.

* Pat Toomey is the former head of the right-wing Club for Growth. He’s talked about privatizing Social Security; blames FDR for the Great Depression; and is on record comparing moderate Republicans to communists.

* Rob Portman used to serve as George W. Bush’s budget director. No, seriously, he really did. After pleading with voters to ignore his entire record in public life, Portman was elected anyway and now Republicans want him to help shape a debt-reduction plan.

If one of these six is likely to be reasonable and make the Super Committee a worthwhile exercise, I don’t see it.

House Democrats will fill the remaining three slot before next Tuesday. They will have until Thanksgiving to come up with a plan and send it to the House and Senate floors.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • kindness on August 10, 2011 12:48 PM:

    OK so the good news is nothing is going to come out of this committee.

    The bad news is if anything does come out of this committee we are screwed.

  • Cathie from Canada on August 10, 2011 12:54 PM:

    The markets collapse because Republicans refused to deal seriously with the debt ceiling issue -- and now the Republicans think this gang of economic lightweights and TeaParty panderers will be capable of negotiating a long-term plan to deal with the deficit?
    Anybody who has their money in American stocks or real estate should sell. Now.

  • beep52 on August 10, 2011 12:57 PM:

    Same battles, smaller armies.

  • c u n d gulag on August 10, 2011 12:58 PM:

    Jeez, Kyl and Hensarling are on this "Super Committee?"

    What, the Village Idiot's Convention was overbooked, and they had no other place to put them?

    Kyl and Hensarling would believe that 7 goes into 28, 13 times. Enjoy the late great Abbott and Costello:


  • T2 on August 10, 2011 1:00 PM:

    given the GOP component of the SuperCom, the remaining three Dems may as well be The Three Stooges. This SuperCom was a bad idea from the start, glad Obama can veto it. But as it stands, both parties are wanting to broadcast these proceedings, which will painfully reveal the complete refusal of the GOP to compromise (naturally, this will be balanced by the Media to show the Dems refuse to force old people to give up their SocSec and invest all their money in the stock market, if it still exists by then).

  • martin on August 10, 2011 1:07 PM:

    There's got to be some way to chart to degrees of stupidity which will come out of this committee. From the really stupid things the repubs will say to the really stupid way the Dems will agree, or at least not call them stupid.

    This is going to be as entertaining as a multi-death car crash.

  • KC on August 10, 2011 1:08 PM:

    Maybe we'll be surprised by our strong President, who fearlessly will accept any deal, who . . . well . . . will accept any deal because it's a "deal." Then he can campaign vigorously on his ability to strike deals that nobody really wants or likes, with people nobody really likes.

  • delNorte on August 10, 2011 1:09 PM:

    If this thing is televised maybe Repubs can substitute Natalie Portman for Rob Portman. Just a thought...

  • PTate in MN on August 10, 2011 1:10 PM:

    These appointments say so much about the Republican's willingness to destroy the country rather than work for the common good.

  • Joe Friday on August 10, 2011 1:14 PM:

    Good Grief.

    The 10-year treasuries just hit 2.12%, and 10-year TIPS (inflation adjusted treasuries) are at ZERO.


    The federal government should be borrowing with both hands and financing massive infrastructure projects to employ millions of Americans.

    Repair all the condemned bridges in the country for FREE.

    Replace our entire antiquated electrical grid with a Smart Grid for FREE.

    Lengthen all the airport runways the airliners keep running out of for FREE.

    Build an entire high-speed rail network for FREE.

    Rebuild the countries crumbling water and sewer plants for FREE.

    Instead we're deciding who will sit on a committee to massively slash spending.

    Just who in Washington will stand up and say the Emperor has no clothes ?

  • square1 on August 10, 2011 1:16 PM:

    So Republicans pick representatives who will largely toe the party line of no tax cuts, under any conditions, and Democrats choose mostly Centrists who are predisposed to aping GOP talking points even if they are marginally better in the sense that they will consider, under protest, some tax increases.

    I'm curious to see who Pelosi picks, but Reid's choices were a complete FAIL.

    Reid's choices suck, both from a negotiating standpoint and from a p.r. standpoint.

    If you think that a deal is possible, then it is stupid to pick people who are predisposed to meeting the GOP halfway. Once again, the Democrats are negotiating against themselves. Even a Centrist should want liberals on the committee in order to pull the committee to the left so that the final result is not a pro-GOP nightmare.

    OTOH, if you think that a deal will not be struck then you want strong, bold Democrats who will clearly distinguish the Democrats from the Republicans so that the public can clearly see what the GOP is obstructing. You don't want Max Baucus.

    Not to mention that Baucus' complete and pathetic failure to attract any GOP support for ACA proves that merely being a corporate Centrist does not mean that one is better suited to finding middle ground with Republicans.

  • just bill on August 10, 2011 1:18 PM:

    right on, joe friday. right on!

  • DAY on August 10, 2011 1:18 PM:

    Interesting how often the names of Abbott and Costello, the Marx Brothers,the Three Stooges, etc come up in our daily discussions! The Golden Age of comedy.

    If i had the energy, i'd go look for video of Burns and Allen to add to the mix.
    instead i'll just say, "Say goodnight, Gracie".

  • Anonymous on August 10, 2011 1:19 PM:


    "These appointments say so much about the Republican's willingness to destroy the country rather than work for the common good."

    I think you are wrong. Republican will be Republicans. This was entirely predicable. The appointments show that the Democrats keep on doing the exact same thing, but expect different results. Baucus will compromise, but there will be no taxes coming out of it. The best thing we can expect is for billionaires to end up paying $2000 more in taxes.

  • David on August 10, 2011 1:21 PM:

    I'm curious to see who Pelosi picks, but Reid's choices were a complete FAIL.

    Given the choices already announced, I don't think it matters who Pelosi picks. The Republicans won't budge and Baucus will cave.

  • just bill on August 10, 2011 1:24 PM:

  • dj spellchecka on August 10, 2011 1:27 PM:

    sounds like spider-man's "sinister six': doctor octopus, the vulture, electro, kraven the hunter, the sandman, and mysterio.

    or perhaps, doctor kochtopus, the ss vulture, death panel sandman, electro shock therapy, misinfosterio and kraven the republican

  • Greg on August 10, 2011 1:32 PM:

    Am I the only one who notices that there are absolutely no Southerners on either team? That's gonna' chap some lips.

    Slash the crap out of the gulf coast military industrial monopoly. The South screwed the North with the Base Closure Commission. It's time to return the favor.

  • Emo-bagging (Hamster) Trollop on August 10, 2011 1:32 PM:

    Wow, Happy Fucking Thanksgiving! Can't wait...

  • Marko on August 10, 2011 1:35 PM:

    Well this should be a VERY short meeting for the committee.

    DEMS: What sources of new revenue will you accept?

    GOP: None.

    Meeting adjourned.

  • exlibra on August 10, 2011 1:37 PM:

    At least, with Kyl there, we'll know that nothing coming out of the committee will be meant as a factual statement...

    "tiumer seems". The resemblance to a tumor is, indeed, striking.

  • Anonymous on August 10, 2011 1:39 PM:

    "Reid late Tuesday appointed three liberal senators with close ties to leadership to the supercommittee: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), who lobbied for the spot, along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.)."

    Baucus liberal??? This is the most slanted article I have ever read. No mention of how conservative the GOP are.


  • MattF on August 10, 2011 1:44 PM:

    Well, the appointment of six economic know-nothings will help the Dems hang together. I hope, anyhow.

  • Old Uncle Dave on August 10, 2011 1:50 PM:

    Liberal senators? They must be using the Foxnooz definition of liberal - anyone to the left of Rupert.

  • mcc on August 10, 2011 1:57 PM:

    "If one of these six is likely to be reasonable and make the Super Committee a worthwhile exercise, I donít see it."

    The Super Committee was never going to be a worthwhile exercise. This is just what we're going to waste the next four months on instead of doing something about the economy. I'm seriously hoping the super committee fails to pass a bill-- I'm not sure if I understand the debt bill as well as I should before I say something like this but I think a dollar-for-dollar trade between the military budget and medicare provider payouts is a pretty good deal. I do not believe whatever the Super Committee comes up with is going to be as good as the "trigger" that fires if they don't. Certainly there's no way the Super Committee bill is going to consist 50% of military cuts.

  • Danny Gail McElrath on August 10, 2011 2:08 PM:

    The script has been written, in fact, all they had to do was just put a new date on the same old script. But we knew what to expect from both sides so it doesn't come as a surprise of any sort.

  • zeitgeist on August 10, 2011 2:15 PM:

    mcc, i would agree with you, but that wont happen.

    not to go all tin-foil hattie, but the set-up has already taken place: (1) Obama and Panetta come out and say they don't want any further military cuts - that even Mediare cuts would be preferable; and (2) Reid appoints Baucus.

    when things stalemate on the committee, as they will, Obama will express deep concern about the automatic military cuts, and will encourage "both parties" to be willing to compromise. the Republicans, of course, will tell him to pound sand. the Dems, however, will say that their job is to be reasonable, to make sure the country is threatened by the brutal, untargeted nature of the trigger mechanism, and so -- while they hate having to do it and it is all the Republicans' fault -- Baucus will vote with the Republicans for a committee proposal that spares teh military and screws the rest of us.

    I hope I'm wrong, but I'll have this permalink handy in the event I need it to say I called it in advance.

  • Nota Sheep on August 10, 2011 2:20 PM:

    I agree 100% with "Joe Friday."

    After reading this post and your other posts of earlier today (and this is NOT a reflection on your reporting skills or your writing skills -- I LOVE your blog and tweet a lot of your posts), I was suddenly overwhelmed by the fantasy that I had the power to put every political reporter [OK, you, Rachel Maddow and a few others excepted] and pundit, every talking head show host, every cable news reader, all those GOPers who will be on the "Gang of 12," and EVERY president wannabee and all their PR hacks and flacks, into a deep coma until 11/1/12. [Personally, I'd rather put all of these people into an irreversible coma, but our Constitution requires we elect a President every four years.]

    I was overtaken by an overwhelming nausea even READING about these politicians. I HATE listening to them or even listening ABOUT them on TV. And I just want all the president wannabees to just SHUT UP!

    I already don't read any of the drivel that passes for political "reporting," evem in the New York Times. But that is not enough. I just want all these politicians and president wannabees to just SHUT UP! They have NOTHING to say that is even remotely related to what most of the American people want from our political system: most of us want the people responsible for the 2008 economic collapse sent to prison to rot there for the rest of their lives; most of us want everyone to have the CHANCE to have a decent education; most of us want everyone to have access to basic decent health care; most of us want everyone just to have the CHANCE to have a decent-paying job, most of us want everyone to be as free as possible of the fear of economic catastrophe ÔŅĹ just so we all can have a CHANCE at a decent life.

    But not only do our politicians not even give us a CHANCE at the above: they are now actually sabotaging our chances at any or all of the above, while they all get salaries at almost 3 times the median wage, the best health care available at nominal cost to them, and a defined benefit pension plan.

    And I personally wish sll those sociopathic Republican politicians who care not a wit about what WE want would all just die within a week of Ebola hemorrhagic fever and God (if there is a God) sends them all to hell (if there is a hell).

    I think I may have finally snapped. I need to take a 15 month vacation on a remote island in the South Pacific with no TV, no radio and no internet.

  • JEA on August 10, 2011 2:22 PM:

    Supercommittee won't work.

    Automatic cuts will go into effect.

    Republicans will howl about defense cuts.

    Democrats will howl about social program cuts.

    And next November the voters will do more than howl. We'll see which side they devour.

  • jjm on August 10, 2011 2:31 PM:

    Pelosi thus has to appoint a staunch and unwavering liberal, like Sanders or Frank, or Schakowski or Franken to this committee. She hasn't selected yet, has she?

  • exlibra on August 10, 2011 2:51 PM:

    jjm, @2:31

    Franken and Sanders are Senators; out of Pelosi's range of choices.

    "ddlect equipages," Yeah, and if the script is any indication, those vehicles are very cramped, too.

  • Susan on August 10, 2011 3:10 PM:

    Oh--and the Dems picked some 'big brains'? John Kerry, Patti Murray??? When I think Einstein, these 2 surely come to mind.

  • KurtRex1453 on August 10, 2011 4:16 PM:

    (@KurtRex1453) has shared a Tweet with you:

    "KurtRex1453: #Pelosi should pick Barney Frank, Bernie Sanders, & Jessie Jackson jr for super committee."

  • T2 on August 10, 2011 4:16 PM:

    "When I think Einstein, these 2 surely come to mind." why? because he's dead?

  • Squeaky McCrinkle on August 10, 2011 4:30 PM:

    Come on, give credit where it's due: Standard & Poor's saw this coming, and acted accordingly.

    The only question that remains is whether the American people are dumb enough to tolerate this laughable excuse for action.

  • glyn grand on August 10, 2011 4:40 PM:

    Now I know why we are here.

    'cause you all want some more Obama money. That stuff in his "Stash".

    And, it happens to be mine.

    There is such a thing as a Constitutional Congress.

    Bet you Three Stoogers haven't read about that one.

    Think it's time yet?

    The real problem is that our economy is built on OVER consumption and a general mentality of entitlement.

    I wonder how many of the "writers" here really add value to a PRODUCT???

    My father (Tea Partyish GOP) who has SS income of 1400/month is willing to give up 10% for the good of the country.

    My Uncle (Far Left Wing Dem) Who gets three times more doesn't know how he could do without a single penny. And, would not give up a dime to help the country.

    I say shared sacrifice. No picking out a group like constructions workers to lean on shovels or bankers to give themselves another unearned bonus.

    Everyone pays the same percentage. Period. Cut everything that is unnecessary. PERIOD. Nothing is too big to fail. PERIOD

  • james on August 10, 2011 8:00 PM:

    Note to those suggesting Pelosi name Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is a member of the Senate, not the House. Nancy Pelosi is limited to choosing members of the House. Please stop reading political blogs until you learn the difference between the House and the Senate.

  • jpeckjr on August 10, 2011 9:00 PM:

    Hensarling qualifies as a Southerner since he's from TX. I notice there are no non-whites, no one from a major urban area, and only one woman. I think the members of this committee should have experience with appropriations, budget, financial services, or taxation. So here's my list of 12 for Rep. Pelosi to choose from: Barbara Lee (CA-9); Pete Stark (CA-13); Xavier Becerra (CA-31); Maxine Waters (CA-35); Jesse Jackson, Jr (IL-2); Luis Guitierrez (IL - 4); Niki Tsongas (MA-3; Barney Frank (MA-4); Melvin Watt (NC-12); Nydia Velazquez (NY-12); Jose Serrano (NY-16); Marcy Kaptur (OH-9).

    You're welcome.

    Captcha: nvocula about -- Yeah I have no clue about how this is gonna work out either

  • Doug on August 10, 2011 9:15 PM:

    glyn grand, I think you've already shown what sort of "stash" yours is.
    Your sentence "There is such a thing as a Constitutional Congress." only proves that you ARE smoking something. Oc course, the Congress is "Constitutional", it's right there in Article 1. If, on the other hand, in your own befogged way, you're referring to a "Constitutional Convention", you're still only partially right. There is NO provision in the US Constitution for ANY "convention" EXCEPT, and I quote:

    "Article V - The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a Convention for PROPOSING AMENDMENTS, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of THREE FOURTHS of the several States, or by Conventions in THREE FOURTHS thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress..."
    In 21st century English the above provides a way to AMEND the Constitution, via 2/3 majorities of the House and Senate or when 2/3s of the state legislatures request a convention to AMEND the Constitution. The former is the usual method used, but even if the latter method WAS used, it wouldn't be a "Constitutional Convention", we've already had one, thank you.
    As with the more usual method of amending the Constitution, it would still require 3/4s of the states to agree before anything coming out of an "Amendment Convention" would become amendments to the Constitution.
    Your father's attitude does him credit, but if he's relying on Republican/Tea Partiers to limit his "contribution" to 10%, I'm afraid he's going to be severely disappointed. Once their done, he'll be lucky if he's left with half that. Then there's the plan by Rep. Ryan (R) to replace Medicare with vouchers that decrease in value over time, resulting in doubled healthcare costs for retirees.
    Rather than trying to defame your uncle who's not here to defend himself, you might better ask yourself how a "Far Left Wing Dem" managed to have a retirement income three times your father's. Of course, there IS the possiblity that your "Far Left Wing Dem" of an uncle, WOULD rather see the world got Hell than help YOU.
    Families are funny like that...

  • Joe Friday on August 10, 2011 9:45 PM:

    glyn grand,

    "I say shared sacrifice."

    I say you're crazy.

    According to the independent non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the vast overwhelming majority of our current federal deficits and debt, as well as our medium-term projected future federal deficits and debt, are as a direct result of the massive plunge in federal income tax revenue from the numerous rounds of massive tax cuts for the Rich & Corporate enacted during the previous administration.

    Those that caused or benefited from this massive expansion of federal deficits and debt should be the ones to pay down the federal deficits and debt. There was no shared benefit, why should there now be shared sacrifice ?

    "Everyone pays the same percentage."

    More craziness.

    The originators of the misleadingly termed 'Flat Tax', Professors Robert Hall and Alvin Rabushka, freely admitted in the 1983 edition of their book, that a 'Flat Tax' would be "a tremendous boon to the economic elite from the start". In an appendix to their book, Hall and Rabushka estimated that their flat tax proposal would increase the tax bill for the lowest income families by 78 percent, and decrease the tax bill for the very richest families by 41 percent.

    Throwing money at the Rich & Corporate has never worked economically.

  • Dcannady on August 11, 2011 4:42 AM:

    C'mon, parasites, we're out here working our rear ends off just to make ends meet and you want to spend a few more trillions of our children's future earnings to keep you seat-warming gubmint jobs. Your voracious appetite for money earned by others is killing the host on which you feed. And, YOU want to talk about stupid.

  • bob h on August 11, 2011 7:07 AM:

    Ryan having disqualified himself with some semi-reasonable statements about revenues.

  • small business loan on August 11, 2011 7:34 AM:

    This post is awesome..i've been reading tons of crap posts from other blogs, but shows you have a more educated reader base.
    Small Business Loan

  • manapp99 on August 11, 2011 10:37 AM:

    "If one of these six is likely to be reasonable and make the Super Committee a worthwhile exercise, I donít see it."

    Of course, but then again with your head buried so deeply in the sands of Democrat talking points how could you?