Republicans announce ‘Super Committee’ selections

Senate Democrats got the ball rolling late yesterday, and Republicans in the House and Senate followed up this morning.

House Speaker John Boehner said he’s tapped House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, to serve as co-chair of the committee. He’s also appointing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., to the committee, as well as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s appointing Sens. Jon Kyl, Ariz., Pat Toomey, Pa., and Rob Portman, Ohio.

There aren’t any major surprises here — GOP leaders picked six very conservative white men; who would have guessed? — though House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was expected to get one of the slots. Nevertheless, let’s take a moment to note some of the first thoughts after glancing at the new list:

* Jeb Hensarling is a prominent right-wing Texan who has a bad habit of saying dumb things. Given the nature of this panel’s work, it’s worth noting that Hensarling has described Social Security and Medicare as “cruel ponzi schemes.” He’s the GOP pick for co-chair of the committee.

* Dave Camp is the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and a rather generic Republican, though he does seem to believe working families don’t pay enough in taxes.

* Fred Upton was known as a relative moderate, until his party fell off the right-wing cliff, at which point he jumped, too.

* Jon Kyl is a far-right GOP leader who strongly believes Congress “should never have to offset” the cost of tax cuts, because the Tax Fairy magically ensures they pay for themselves. As part of the recent debt-reduction talks, Kyl ruled out any attempts to increase revenue and demanded $6 trillion in cuts.

* Pat Toomey is the former head of the right-wing Club for Growth. He’s talked about privatizing Social Security; blames FDR for the Great Depression; and is on record comparing moderate Republicans to communists.

* Rob Portman used to serve as George W. Bush’s budget director. No, seriously, he really did. After pleading with voters to ignore his entire record in public life, Portman was elected anyway and now Republicans want him to help shape a debt-reduction plan.

If one of these six is likely to be reasonable and make the Super Committee a worthwhile exercise, I don’t see it.

House Democrats will fill the remaining three slot before next Tuesday. They will have until Thanksgiving to come up with a plan and send it to the House and Senate floors.