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Who's minding the supercommittee?

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Wed., 10/19/11
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When the 435 House members and 100 senators failed in July to agree on a long-term deficit reduction plan, the leaders appointed a committee. But don't sneer, for this is--cue the trumpets--a supercommittee!

Made up of only a dozen lawmakers and perfectly balanced between Repubs and Dems, this panel is to find about $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and new revenues to shrink the federal deficit. The theory is that the group will be small enough to work together across partisan lines for the good of the country, free from the demands of special interests.

The problem with theories is that reality has a way of intruding on their perfection. In this case, the intrusion is literal. AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Citigroup, and GE will be there--not physically, but monetarily. These outfits are among the top donors of campaign cash to the twelve budgeteers.

Wall Streeters alone have invested $17 million in the campaigns of the supercommittee's six Republicans and $15 million in the six Democrats.

Meanwhile, Big Oil, the insurance giants, Wall Street bankers, and other corporate powers have mobilzed lobbyists who're on a first-name basis with the members. About 100 staffers who used to work for the super Congress members have now been hired by corporations to lobby their old bosses. A couple of dozen of Sen. Max Baucus' former aides are now lobbying him and the other eleven deficit whackers to protect the subsidies that oil, insurance, and other corporations receive from us taxpayers.

And they wonder why Congress and corporate lobbyists rank below E. coli bacteria in public approval ratings.

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