Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Best Commission Money Can Buy!

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (a.k.a. The Cat Food Commission For the Elderly) shows its fiscal responsibility by not paying all its members:

Instead, about one in four commission staffers is paid by outside entities, many of which have strong ideological points of view about how to tackle the deficit.

For example, the salaries of two senior staffers, Marc Goldwein and Ed Lorenzen, are paid by private groups that have previously advocated cuts to entitlement programs. Lorenzen is paid by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, while Goldwein is paid by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is also partly funded by the Peterson group.

The outsourcing has come under sharp criticism from seniors' organizations and liberal activists, who say the strategy is part of a broader conservative bias favoring painful entitlement cuts over other solutions. The fears of some liberal groups appeared to come true on Wednesday, when the commission's two leaders recommended significant reductions for Social Security and other social-welfare programs.
There are liberal outsiders, too!

Bruce Reed, the panel's executive director, defended the staffing arrangement as fiscally responsible and said the staff includes a broad range of views. Other staffers paid by outside entities include an analyst from the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute and a Clinton administration official who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University, he said.
Note the false equivalence when it comes to a university being labeled as liberal?

But whatever. I'm very interested in the views of Mr. Peterson:

Kennelly and other liberal-leaning critics say they are particularly troubled by the influence of Peterson, a billionaire and former investment banker who began a $6 million campaign this week urging lawmakers to cut the deficit. Peterson, co-founder of the Blackstone Group investment fund, paid for a series of town hall meetings this year that included participation by deficit commission members. He also funds the Fiscal Times, a digital news organization that focuses on federal debt issues.
How does one balance that? I think we'd need about a million indigent seniors on that commission as a counterweight. Because money speaks loudly.

I know that I've said this far too many times but it's still worth noting how the concern over the deficit didn't exist during the Bush era. Somehow it was perfectly OK to overspend then when the Republicans were in power and the money went to killing foreigners.