Rich Galen

The conventional wisdom out of Washington is that the Super Committee will not reach an agreement to cut between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years.

The Super Committee's official name is the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction but its initials, JSCDF, don't lend themselves to tripping easily over the English-speaking tongue any more than that volcano in Iceland that blew its top a last year, so it was unofficially named the Super Committee.

The Super Committee's acronym would be JessCuhDef. The volcano's name iss Eyjafjallajökull. Almost rhymes.

That same narrative holds that the six Representatives (3 Rs - 3 Ds) and six Senators (3 Rs - 3 Ds) who were picked to serve on the Super Committee by their leaders have failed in their mission to effect real change in the tax code, in entitlement, and in the trajectory of federal spending.

I disagree.

I believe that the need to appoint a Super Committee in the first place was a failure of governance on the part of both parties, in both Chambers and, just to complete the rogues' gallery, on the part of the President of the United States.

We pay rank-and-file Representatives and Senators $174,000 per year. Members of the Leadership get about $20,000 more. The Speaker's salary is $223,500.

Before you hit the SEND key asking me, the President's salary is $400,000 the Vice President gets approximately Speaker money, $230,700.

My point is we pay all these people all this money to run the Federal government. Over the years they have continually found ways to abrogate that responsibility.

The most well known are the so-called BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) Commissions. These is groups of civilians appointed to decide on which military bases should be closed and to where, if anywhere the activities conducted on those bases should be transferred.

Members of the House and Senate who had argued forcefully (or whose predecessors had done) for a military base to be sited in their District or State found themselves unable to go back to their constituents and tell them that closing that base was in the national interest

So, they adopted a plan to hand off the responsibility to one of the five commissions which have been assembled since 1988 and the trick is, the Congress can't amend the recommendation of the BRAC Commission. They can only take it or leave it.

That way Members can go home and say, "It wasn't me. I WANTED to preserve this base which has been considered surplus since the Spanish-American War, but what could I do? The BRAC Commission took it out of my hands."

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at