News Release

Debt Deal Creates “‘Catfood Commission’ on Steroids”


GWENDOLYN MINK, wendymink at
Available for a limited number of interviews, Mink is co-editor of the two-volume Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics and Policy and author of Welfare’s End. She said today: “The debt deal certainly is better than the Boehner Bill, and better still than the Tea Party favorite, the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill. But it is nonetheless bad policy, bad process, and bad faith. Arbitrary spending caps and across-the-board spending cuts are lazy, wicked, and destructive mechanisms that disguise glacial policy change. The proposed Super Committee and its fast-tracked decisions are anti-democratic and irresponsible — both procedurally and substantively — delegating plenary legislative authority from the many to the few.

“The losers in this deal are the people — especially the poor, the elderly, the medically vulnerable, and the jobless. This debt deal should put an end to Democratic excuse-making for President Obama’s failure to end the jobs crisis and his willingness to put the social safety net at risk. In this debt deal, we have a Democratic President serving up to slaughter Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid — by the Super Committee, whose work must be approved as-is if across-the-board spending cuts or another default crisis are to be averted.

“While the deal does not target Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security for immediate cuts, it does offer up Medicare for across-the-board cuts should the Super Committee fail to report a deficit reduction package, should the Congress reject it, or should the Congress kill a Balanced Budget Amendment. The White House says Medicare cuts will affect providers, not beneficiaries. But in the absence of Medicare-for-All or some other single payer system, cuts to Medicare providers inevitably will impose costs on beneficiaries, increasing numbers of providers who refuse to treat Medicare patients.

“Social Security and Medicaid are to be exempted from across-the-board cuts triggered by failure of the Super Committee. But before we even get to across-the-board cuts, the Super Committee will be empowered to cut (‘reform’) Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as part of its deficit reduction package.

“This morning, a White House official reportedly lamented that some Democrats just don’t see the need to reduce the deficit. What a sad day when a Democratic White House snidely condemns policy makers who express legitimate dismay at a deal that will spread poverty and economic insecurity.”

JANE HAMSHER, firedoglake at
Hamsher, founder of the blog FireDogLake, just wrote the piece “Whip the Super Congress: Call and Ask Your Member of Congress if They Like Their Job.” which states: “You won’t find a Super Congress mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. It will be an elite body of 12 members of Congress who write legislation behind closed doors and then announce it to the public. Whatever they decide will then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it can’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers.

“This is the ‘Catfood Commission’ on steroids.

“The creation of a ‘Super Congress’ is how Congress intends to insulate themselves from taking unpopular votes to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits — by investing a small group of elites with extraordinary powers, and then tying their own hands from stopping them.”

MAX RICHTMAN, via Pamela Causey, causeyp at
Richtman is executive vice president/acting CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security; Causey is communications director for the group. The group just released a statement titled “The Good, Bad and Ugly of the Debt Deal.”