After a report in the Wall Street Journal appeared indicating that Obama “met with 44 fiscally conservative ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats this week and gave a nod to legislation that would set up commissions to deal with long-term deficit strains,” noting that “the commissions would then present plans to Congress for an up-or-down vote,” it appears things moved rather swiftly.
House and Senate leadership sent word back to the White House, something subtle along the lines of “tha F*!K, are you CRAZY?”
The “fiscal responsibility” summit will still happen on February 23, but plans to empower a commission to make recommendations that are not subject to amendment by Congress have been scrapped. This will no doubt come as a blow to Wall Street robber baron Pete Peterson, who has pledged a billion dollars to loot “save” Social Security and Medicare.
We have sadly concluded that the “regular order” in Congress is broken and that achieving progress on multiple fronts within a short timeframe is not possible on a piecemeal basis.
These Blue Dog dreams of circumventing Congressional procedure were evidently crushed when “Reid and Pelosi sent back word that Congress doesn’t get bypassed just because Peter Orszag says it does,” said a source familiar with the communications. But Peterson can’t be too disappointed — after Obama and Biden speak at the Monday conference, it will be Peterson himself presenting to the group, and then Laura Tyson of the Obama economic advisory team. Then the guests, which include members of Congress and others, will split up into six groups. But for now, the plan for a specially empowered “panel” coming out of the summit has been scrapped.
Tyson has been a proponent of the “Diamond-Orszag” plan, which calls for the retirement age to be raised and for Social Security benefits to be cut for those 55 and under as a way to be “fiscally responsible.” So anyone waiting to hear the voice of a progressive like Jamie Galbraith, say, who thinks that Social Security should be increased, or even someone who doesn’t assume that Social Security is in the midst of a “crisis” and needs to be “fixed” — don’t hold your breath.
Social Security is one of the only things standing between a significant portion of the retired female population and poverty, so it takes some real nerve to argue that their benefits should be cut. It’ll be really interesting to see egomaniac billionaire Pete Peterson, who owes his fortune to favorable taxation rates on hedge funds and private equity, lecture everyone about why old women should be eating cat food so the nation can be “fiscally responsible.”