The idea that the Democrat Leadership Council, home of triangulation, bipartisonship, and conservative Blue Dogs who've never seen a Republican policy they won't vote for, is somehow defunct and/or out of the loop just because it hired Harold Ford as a front man was exploded by President Obama when he chose who to put on his so-called "Deficit Commission", stacking it with anti-SocSec advocates like Alan Simpson and Pete Peterson. As Dan Froomkin so ably notes, the DLC is alive and kicking on the Kill Social Security Commission.
[Bruce] Reed, the [commission's] executive director, hails from the Democratic Leadership Council, true paragons of political triangulation. Reed brought DLC research associate Conor McKay on board as well.
Pleading poverty on account of the commission's $500,000 budget (a good chunk of which will go to the executive director's $150,000 a year salary, and office expenses) Reed said he is reaching out to other government agencies and nonprofit groups to lend him "detailees" for key staff posts.
So far, Reed has brought on Meagan Mann, from deficit-hawk Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag's staff, and Marc Goldwein, the Social Security expert at the deficit-hawk Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Deficit hawks are policymakers who have an unhealthy obsession with keeping the federal budget under control. Lately, the only concrete thing they seem to be able to agree on is that Social Security payouts need to be reduced.
Of the many tricks, tactics, and sleazoid moves DLCers have stolen from right-wing crackpots like Dick Cheney is one where the members of "public" commissions to plan "public" policies have their meetings in secret, no members of the "public" allowed.
Members of President Obama's deficit commission huddled behind closed doors Wednesday despite pleas from the left and right that they hold all their meetings in public.
The move only heightens suspicion that rather than forging a national consensus on future spending priorities, the commission's work will consist of backroom dealings in which members of the Washington aristocracy find high-minded excuses for cutting the social safety net.
These secret "working group" meetings, it turns out, are likewise stacked with deficit cutters who have been pretty open about wanting to see "entitlements" reduced rather than raising taxes on the rich or, dawg forbid, reducing the war budget.
The full commission, which will meet once a month, in public, heard a limited range of views at its first meeting on April 27. Headliners included Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and OMB's Orszag.
Similarly, the heads of the working groups don't exactly represent the whole political spectrum. Wednesday's meeting, of the "Discretionary Spending" working group, was led by Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). That represents a range from Blue-dog deficit hawk (on the left) to radical government de-funder (on the right).
The commission's makeup and the requirement that all recommendations be approved by 14 of the 18 members make is almost foreordained that it won't agree on much.
There are certainly enough votes on the right to block any significant tax increase proposals.
There certainly aren't enough votes anywhere to propose deep spending cuts in the bloated military budget.
The only real question is whether there are five votes -- enough to block passage -- against cutting social programs, particularly Social Security.
I'd say the fact that there's a question that a mere 5 out of 18 people on a Democrat-appointed commission could be found who would vote to save Social Security is pretty much proof of Obama's intended outcome.
Meanwhile, here's what happened when Alex Lawson of Social Security Works tried to get a camera into the meeting or at least question members as they came out.
Remind you of anything? Or anybody?
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