At the end of this month, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will hold its first meeting and begin to consider ways to dig our nation out from the irresponsible deficits created by the Bush Administration. This presidentially-created 18-member commission is tasked with addressing “the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government.”
While I and many of my fellow Members of Congress support efforts to balance the budget, it is critically important that this commission examine every part of the federal budget during this process. For example, the Commission should most certainly consider the $985 billion dollars spent on foreign wars since 2001.
In order to ensure that the American people are informed about the Commission’s work, I am asking my House colleagues to join me in sending a letter to the Commission’s co-chairmen asking them to make every one of their meetings (including any working group meetings) public, to rigorously analyze the impact of every potential benefit cut or tax hike, and issue draft recommendations before Election Day, so that voters can ask candidates how they feel about the Commission’s recommendations.
Even Minority Leader John Boehner gets it – he wrote a similar letter to the Commission last month. Although we don’t see eye-to-eye on most issues, one thing the Minority Leader and I can agree on is that the more open and transparent the Commission’s process is, the better the outcome for the American people.
We all know how Americans react to backroom deals cut behind closed doors, and that is why it is critical that we maintain our promises to the people on transparency and openness.
We need transparency to make sure that the members of the Commission don’t buy into the right-wing myths being put forward by CNN, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and others that want to convince the American people that creating jobs and fighting poverty will damage the economy, that Social Security is going broke, and that achieving fiscal stability means cutting Medicare benefits for our seniors.
The large majorities of Americans who oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare haven’t bought into any of those distortions and neither should the members of the Commission. By opening up these meetings and shining sunlight into their deliberations, we can ensure that they won’t.