photo: interpunct via Flickr

Government rules about expenditures are funny: if there’s no authorization to spend federal funds, you really can’t. As Dean Baker pointed out Wednesday morning, despite the Washington Post’s best efforts to cover up, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles will violate the Catfood Commission’s charter by pretending to extend the life of their little programme into December.

The Post reported that the commission expects to delay voting on a plan until December 3. This means that the commission will miss the December 1 deadline for a final report specified in both its by-laws and its charter.

Without a charter and in violation of its bylaws, the Commission really can’t keep its doors open or the lights on and expect the federal government to write its checks. Is the Catfood Commission now a 100% Peterson-funded effort? Have the chairmen gone to their patron for fundage for these last few, charter-free, outlaw-operation days? Are all the paychecks, rent, toner, and the light bill coming out of their generous benefactors’ wallet?

The American people, who had some small faith in our president’s goal of putting the nation’s financial house in order (despite who he asked to chair the thing), deserve to know if this now-illegal group of outlaws is, in fact, simply a billionaire hedge-funder’s vanity project. It tends to color how we view the ‘report’ and the Catfoodies’ ‘findings,’ both of which need to be in scare-quotes since the deadline has been missed.