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Talking Supercommittee Transparency

October 31, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Matt Yglesias and I debate the importance of supercommittee transparency on this week’s episode of NPR’s On the Media. Have a listen below:

Every activist knows that to influence legislation you have to get involved at the earliest stage in the legislative process you possibly can. Congress knows this too, and it’s why the created the supercommittee — to prevent the public from having influence in discussions on long-term budget, spending and tax issues. The supercommittee process shuts the public out until the very last step by concentrating power in just 12 lawmakers and establishing special fast-track rules that make any engagement beyond “yes” or “no” impossible. But it’s not shutting out the corporations and special interests that have been able to engage with the committee through expensive access lobbyists. Transparency wouldn’t fix all the problems with the supercommittee — its structure is anti-democratic and its mission is flawed — but it would at least level the playing field a bit.

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  • Moderated Comment

  • drm 10/31/2011 3:42pm

    Great interview, Donny, and thanks to On the Media and the vital national public resource NPR for having the conversation & inviting you. Quick addition, this is worthy of a longer blog post… but as a placeholder here, the point is made that committees & sub-committees debate policy regularly. This is true, and specialization of this sort is perfectly compatible w/ an open & deliberative legislative process, we believe. Similarly, private conversations are both fine & un-regulate-able, so to speak. But this preposterously anti-democratic SuperCommittee has far, far more authority & scope in its recommendations re: taxing & spending than a typical committee. “Background”: So it follows that such high stakes, high $$ work should be subject to radical public transparency & default to openness. PPF doesn’t endorse the premise of a SuperCommittee to begin with, but as it exists, the most stringent version control oversight is needed.

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