With Republicans announcing their six members of the 12-person Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka “Super Committee”) yesterday, all that was left was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) making her selections. She announced her choices this morning: Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), and House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
Brian Beutler had a good summary of the relevant background all three will bring to the process.
As a member of the bipartisan deficit discussion group, convened by Vice President Joe Biden, that laid the groundwork for the debt limit deal, Clyburn — the third ranking Democrat in the House — publicly backed certain entitlement benefit cuts. Specifically, he said negotiators should at least consider further means-testing of Social Security or reduce benefits across the board by reducing Cost of Living Adjustments. […]
Van Hollen is the Dems’ top budget guy in the House. He’s one of the party’s chief antagonists of the GOP budget, which calls for phasing out Medicare, and was also a member of the Biden working group. Publicly, he’s been an advocate of approaches to deficit reduction that pair about one dollar of tax increases with about three dollars of spending cuts. He recently cited the Bowles-Simpson framework as a counterpoint to the Republican plan. Their proposal largely punted on controlling health care costs, but called for eliminating all tax expenditures, and ensuring indefinite Social Security solvency with a combination of benefit cuts and revenue increases.
Becerra was a member of the Bowles-Simpson commission and he voted against their plan from the left. He’s the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee and will likely be progressives’ main ally on the Super Committee.
I can appreciate why, given the panel’s responsibilities, it makes to scrutinize all of the members’ records as they relate to entitlements. We’re looking for clues as to what to expect.
But I suspect the key takeaway from the House Democratic selections is that all three are key, close allies of Pelosi, and they will very likely be representing her interests during the negotiations.
Since I like Pelosi and agree with her expectations for the process, I consider this a positive development.
As for the larger committee, it’s worth noting for context that it’s not as diverse as it should be, though Dems did a much better job on this front. Republicans chose six white guys. Democrats chose one woman, one African American, one Latino, and three white guys.
Together they will until Thanksgiving to
fail miserably come up with a bipartisan plan and send it to the House and Senate floors.