More Than 70 Congressman Now Backing Fascist Austerity Commission
May 11, 2009 • 11:43AM

What K Street behaviorist came up with this cute title? The "independent" commission that would come up with recommendations on how to gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid has been dubbed the SAFE Commission—Secure America's Future Economy. Since Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) reintroduced the measure (H.R. 1557) in March, it has gained 66 cosponsors (24 Democrats, 42 Republicans) in the House. Complementary legislation in the Senate is backed by, among others, Judd Gregg, ranking Republican on the Budget Committee; Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad; Republican George Voinovich; independent Democrat Joseph I. Lieberman; and Republican Lindsey Graham. (For a full list of cosponsors, go to Thomas.gov.)

The commission would be modeled on the disastrous military base-closing process. Congress would be required to vote up or down on the commission's recommendations. No amendments.

"Everything will be put on the table," said Wolf when he reintroduced the bill. Wolf has been pushing the idea since the spring of 2006. "Entitlement spending. Discretionary spending. Tax policy. We need to look at everything. This is a bold step, but it won't work if we don't go into the process saying everything must be looked at and discussed."

Among its backers, the austerity commission plan has the support of the Heritage Foundation, the Business Roundtable, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Concord Coalition, the Brookings Institution, and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

"Without action to reverse the $56 trillion in unfunded obligations from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and the mounting federal debt now over $11 trillion, the stark reality is that Americans will be forced to pay two and three times the tax liability they have today—and that's just to cover the mandatory spending and interest on the debt," Wolf said. "That massive debt load will crowd out other spending, leaving little to nothing to pay for education, medical research, transportation, and any other discretionary spending program you can name."

Wolf pointed to a Peter Hart Associates and Public Opinion Strategies poll that set up a Hobson's choice for Americans. Presented with the hang-or-be-shot option, supposedly some 56% of registered voters said they preferred a bipartisan commission rather than the regular congressional process "to tackle the growing budget deficit and national debt."