Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Congressional Super Committee: An Anti-Democratic Sham

Dear Occupiers and 99%ers and Other Clear Thinking Fellow Americans,

Now that many of you are going to be freezing your behinds off over the coming weeks on the streets in NY, Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit and all over the country,  you might as well be doing it for a really worthwhile cause, like preventing the untold damage that is about to be done by the so-called “Super Committee” that is going to determine all of our futures. 

The unelected, totally undemocratic Super Committee is going to determine the cuts in all of those programs you most dearly value, and will also make sure that investment firms, banks, insurance companies, oil and coal companies take very few if any hits at all. They will never in your life time  allow any meaningful tax increases upon their benefactors.  The Committee members, Republicans and Democratic members alike, are for all practical purposes, employed by (i.e. their campaigns are paid for by) securities and financial firms, banks, lawyers, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies. Almost all of them. They owe them their very existences in Washington.   I'm not being unfair, it is a fact.  They have sold their souls and have no choice but to dance to the pipers' tune. 

99% of the American people are totally unrepresented on this “Super Committee.” Our representation is zero, ninguno, acune, nesunno, keener, אף אחד없음, in other words, none whatsoever.  The committee is one of the most undemocratic bodies I have seen in Washington in many years, except for the Supreme Court, 5/9ths of which is also employed by the same monied interests that own our members of the Senate and House. 

Here’s another reason you should be ESPECIALLY concerned and get your rears into gear right away. 
According to Huffington Post, Washington's corps of high-paid lobbyists has found a way to lobby the super committee indirectly, which is supposed to be illegal. They have descended on the Congress in large numbers to persuade rank-and-file Republican lawmakers and leaders, to act as de facto lobbyists, penetrating the committee and convincing their colleagues to protect the interests of special groups. "It's a strategy of turning members (of Congress) into lobbyists," said Rich Gold, a partner at the Washington firm Holland & Knight.  Jack Howard, a veteran lobbyist at Wexler & Walker with close ties to four of the committee's Republican members, said he had already spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill, and elsewhere in Washington, talking to lawmakers and their staff about the panel. "I see them in the hallways as they pass to go and vote, I see them at breakfasts, lunches, dinners, receptions," Howard said.  In other words, though no one is supposed to lobby the Super Committee members, their own colleagues in Congress are doing so on behalf of the people who pay them to do so.

If you want to do something about a really important cause with ALMOST IMMEDIATE IMPACT, demand that organizations clearly representing your interests be provided with opportunities to address the Committee in public hearings, and provide testimony at length. None of this stuff of squeezing each speaker into 5-7 minutes, which is what they usually do with people they don’t want to hear from.  No, demand they get a full hearing.  Here’s a starter list for who should testify:  Center for American Progress, Center for Law and Social Policy, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AARP, El Centro de la Razza, The American Association of Universities, The American Federation for Teachers, The Audobon Society, NAACP, The National Association for Education of Young Children, Human Rights Watch,  the Urban League.  Make certain that all committee votes are public, no secret votes.  All testimony of lobbyists and corporate executives must be under oath, no sleazy writhing and wiggling without answering allowed. Either answer the questions under oath or admit they are in contempt.  Write to your elected representatives in the Senate and House in your home state demanding these specific things. It only takes five minutes to zing off an email message to your elected representatives. http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Be prepared to move your protest from the cushy comforts of the slush and snow of New York City's Liberty Square, Chicago and Oakland, to the halls of the US Capitol Building and Congressional hearing rooms on short notice. If it looks as though the Committee is going to recommend unacceptable cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and other health, social, educational and energy programs, which very is likely, you need to get a move on.  Be prepared to create another Poor People’s Campaign in the Nation’s Capital as occurred in 1968, when thousands of demonstrators camped in Resurrection City, while they lobbied Congress for the program. Call it The 99% Campaign instead. That’s probably what it’s going to take.  A nice big messy campground with all kinds of signs, and speakers and booths distributing literature to passersby on the Mall should get their attention. Instead of a chicken in every pot, it'll be a protester in every senator and congress person's office.

Here is who owns the Super Committee according to Open Secrets.Org:  Sens. Murray (D-WA), Co-Chair represents lawyers, lobbyists & Emily’ List; Sen. Baucus (D-MT) owes his allegiance to securities and investment firms, lawyers groups, health organizations, and lobbyists; Sen. Kerry (D-MA) is working for lawyers, securities and investment firms, real estate interests and lobbyists; Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) is employed by pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, securities and investments and commercial banks; Sen. Toomey (R-PA) works for conservative republican political organizations, securities and investment firms and his leadership PAC, which is the same as the first group; Rep. Portman (R-OH) is representing securities and investment firms, lawyers and insurance companies.

Reps. Clyburn (D-SC) only got a puny $1 million+ in donations, and represents electrical utilities, pharmaceuticals, health organizations, and insurance companies; Rep. Van Hollen (D-MD) has only raised $300,000 (amazing!) from insurance companies, public sector unions, health professionals, and defense-aerospace. Rep. Becerra (D-CA) has received his $550,000 pittance from health professionals, hospitals, real estate and insurance; Reps. Hensarling (R-TX), Co-Chair has raised $2.2 million from insurance companies, banks, misc. finance and investment companies. Rep. Camp (R-MI) is working for securities and investment companies, health professionals, insurance companies and pharmaceuticals ($2.1 million) Rep. Upton (R-MI) is representing electrical utilities, pharmaceuticals, health professionals, lobbyists and lawyers.

Do you get it?  These people are going to sell us out big time by Thanksgiving, in just three weeks when they are required to vote on a budget cut plan, if you don’t stop them.  Join forces with the labor unions and put a stop to it.  Demand more hearings addressing your concerns, and do it now!

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