Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Congress Abdicates: Obama Task Force to Decide Taxes

Barack Obama has the agreement of Congress to form a task force to once again abdicate the duties and responsibilities of that increasingly laughable body that sits on Capitol Hill. Where the Constitution grants Congress the sole right to tax and spend, a new task force of 18 congressional members will now try to solve the country's deficit.

Two senators came up with the idea and drafted the legislation: Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). May Judd Gregg feel the weight of what he has done each and every night he lays his head on a pillow. Once the panel makes a recommendation, it will be voted on by Congress, no amendments with a straight up or down vote in both the House and the Senate. Not that Congress has done much responsible thinking of late; now they need to do none.

In this column by George Will, he points out a sentence in The Washington Post:

The White House has been talking to Congress to try to craft a proposal that would not wholly relinquish congressional control over major decisions on taxes and spending.
What is it that Congress does these days? Czars do the work, plant the seeds, the seed is carried to the House and Senate leaders and the troops bring out the goose-step.

Will points out that the oath of office for members of Congress doesn't ask them to "partially or occasionally or when convenient" support and defend the Constitution - and faithfully discharge their duties.
Substantively, the task force would be a means of conscripting Republican participation in huge tax increases.
Were the Conrad-Gregg task force to come to a consensus, it almost certainly would be that Congress must make the supposedly “difficult choice” of spending more of other people's money. Fortunately, the task force probably would be paralyzed by the requirement that its proposals must be endorsed by at least 14 — 78 percent — of its members. Given the difficulty of getting 60 percent of the Senate to agree on anything important, a 78 percent consensus on raising taxes and cutting entitlements will be extremely elusive.
Here's a suggestion whose time has come:
So the Gregg-Conrad legislation should be amended to include this language:
“During the life of this task force, which will perform Congress' fundamental duties, all senators and representatives will be considered on vacation and will not be paid. If the task force's recommendations are accepted by Congress, there will be no congressional pay until 2050.”

This would be a Madisonian measure, altering incentives in order to encourage responsibility. Let's vote.
 Others talking about the abdication of Congress:
Left Coast Rebel

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