By DANA LIEBELSON
POGO and a host of other good government groups called on the Chairs and Ranking Members in both chambers of Congress last week to make public their recommendations to the "Super Committee." The deadline for these submissions was October 14th--and for these watchdogs, the "dog-ate-my-homework" excuse isn’t going to cut it.
According to the letter, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka the Super Committee, has been "mired in secrecy since its inception." Angela Canterbury, director of public policy at POGO, recently dubbed it the "Supersecret Committee."
This bipartisan Committee has been tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget cuts to be made over the next decade by November 23, or face sequestration. POGO and its allies say that as the Chairs and Ranking Members of the standing committees make their recommendations, they “have a responsibility to the American public to shine a light on the contributions in this process [because] these programs impact every American.”
So far, the House Democrats have made public the recommendations of their Committee Ranking Members—but most committee chairs have skirted the issue.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner(R-OH) told USA Today that committee chairpersons are “constantly discussing deficit reduction options” with the Super Committee Republicans; but he didn’t directly address releasing the recommendations. He told The Los Angeles Times however, it’s because the Republicans are not planning on sending a formal packet of suggestions.
USA Today also reported that the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee isn't releasing its recommendations because the advice is “an internal document.” [Update: the suggestions from the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee are online here.]
POGO and allies say that the lack of transparency in this process is worrying, given that Members of the Super Committee have met repeatedly with each other and lobbyists behind closed doors.
“The Deficit Committee’s decisions will have more legitimacy if Americans are given the opportunity to digest and respond to the rationale behind any recommended cuts,” said the letter.
Dana Liebelson is POGO's Beth Daley Impact Fellow.
Photo via Flickr user Girl.in.the.D.