Fiscal Commission Moves the Goalpost Forward on Austerity Plan--with the Media's Help
November 30, 2010 - 4:36pm ET
Convinced they cannot reach the end-zone, the Fiscal Commission’s Co-Chairs and their allies in the media are moving the goalpost to the 20-yardline. Congress is only obligated to consider the Commission’s proposals if 14 out of 18 of its members can agree. But yesterday Commission sources implied that only 10, or even 5 will do, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s the relevant quote:
Winning 14 votes appears unlikely given the political makeup of the committee, people familiar with the matter said. Nonetheless, a proposal that wins 10 votes and one that wins just five could send different signals to the country and to investors about how Washington might tackle the country's worsening debt.
Whether this came from Commission members or staffers, or from Damian Paletta, the reporter who wrote the article, publishing this kind of speculation as if it were undisputed fact is sadly consistent with the media's whitewashing of the Fiscal Commission thus far. When Simpson and Bowles released their “chairmen’s mark” a few weeks ago, the media acted like the entire 18-member “Commission” had spoken, routinely describing their proposal as the “Commission’s” report.
It was only a matter of time before the media put their thumb on the scale once more. Now reporters like Paletta are speaking on behalf of the "country" and a mysteriously vague group of "investors"? As a member of the country, I say, "Thanks, but no thanks." As for Paletta's insight into the mindset of investors, maybe he should retire from journalism and head for Wall Street. Because if he can predict what will stoke or soothe the fears of bondholders, he has a skill that few financial experts have.
When Obama stacked a Commission with fiscal hawks that do not represent the American people, he at least insisted that it receive a super-majority if Congress was to consider it. So let’s keep Congress, the President and the Commission to their word. Anything less than 14 votes should be dead-on-arrival. Period.
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