Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Super Committee/Death by China: A Review

With its approval rating the lowest in history (around 12% at the time of this writing), Congress has put together a so-called "Super Committee". So, what's so "super" about it? Well, let's first look at why our elected representatives felt the need to create this committee; who's on it; and what it is supposed to accomplish. Finally, we'll examine the long term repercussions of having a "Super Committee", whose actual name is Joint Select Committee for Deficit Reduction.

As I said above, the approval ratings for Congress are dismal, and they've been that way for a some time. Long enough for even the arrogant thick headed politicians in Washington along with their K Street paymasters to realize that it may be an angry mob coming to Washington rather than another idealistic Mr. Smith. The latest, and so far most disastrous example of Washington's failure was the debate over the raising the debt ceiling. With the public's mood becoming darker as each day of economic chicken played out, the leaders in both parties came to the conclusion that the only way to save their worthless hides was to create a political body to deflect future blame.

It's really an interesting idea if you think about it. Under their agreement, party bosses selected three individuals from each party and both the upper and lower chambers of Congress for a total of twelve individuals (a brief biography of each member is included below). Originally called a "Super Congress", the name was quickly abandoned since it gave the "wrong" impression that a new entity was being created outside of Congressional parameters (never mind the fact that both the Executive, Judicial, and Congressional branches have long over stepped their respective boundaries decades ago). Now called a "Super Committee", these twelve individuals would meet behind closed doors to attempt to draft a deficit reduction bill.

This is a tough job, and they will certainly earn hazardous duty pay, especially when you consider their job is to find 1.5 trillion dollars to be cut over the next 10 years ( I strongly suspect that number will increase by at least half long before then). That means dealing with highly protective issues like the military, Medicare, Social Security, Obamacare, illegal immigration, and veterans to name just a few. If seven of the twelve members vote in favor of a specific proposal, it gets "fast tracked" through the House and Senate. The pressure on these 12 individuals will be unbearable.

The Super Committee derives its authority from the Budget Control Act of 2011 (or BCA for short). The committee will act as a select committee, meaning that once its object is meet (in this case, finding 1.5 trillion dollars) and drafting a deficit reduction bill, it will be dissolved. The bill gets the unusual benefit of a up-or-down vote in the House and Senate. No filibusters, and no amendments to the bill can be added (and for the record, I oppose adding non-relevant "pork" amendments to bills. I also support line item vetoes to help curtail this form of political pandering).

Joint and/or select committees are not unusual. Its how things get done in Congress, and while this one does have a few unusual characteristics like no filibustering and an up-or-down vote, it may prove to be the only way the federal government can accomplish its goal of finding and eliminating 1.5 trillion dollars. America is in deep financial trouble, due largely to mismanagement, a lack of leadership, and the creation of a society of special interest entitlements. There can be no failure here. Everything is at stake. If it takes a super committee or a Superman, then so be it.

Suggested Reading:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/what-is-a-super-committee-53423/

http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/11/news/economy/debt_committee_members/index.htm

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0811/Who-s-who-on-Congress-s-debt-super-committee/Sen.-Max-Baucus-D-of-Montana


Book Review: Death by China
Written by Peter Navarro and Greg Autry

Lenin once famously remarked that Communism would sell Western Capitalism the rope that would be used to hang them with. Well, as it turns out, that rope is made in China. How many of us have sat in dazed anger watching the news about another US plant closing while hundreds or even thousands of jobs...our jobs...were being sent to China? How many of us remember Wal-Mart's slogan about everything they sold being made in America? Nowadays, just try and find something made in America in Wal-Mart. If you're like me, you've often asked yourself how did America, and American jobs end up some 5000 miles away. I found the answer. It's in "Death by China", written by Peter Navarro and Greg Autry.

This totally engrossing book explains in everyday language how America lost its competitive edge to its ideological enemy, China. The authors detail how China has been so successful in exporting shoddy and often dangerous products like poorly made electrical tools, baby cribs, or children's toys painted with toxic lead base paint, not to mention food stuffs grown in contaminated soil and irrigated with polluted water. Exposed too is how China bypasses regulations and product inspections, often with the tacit support of inspectors; how China ignores various free trade agreements; creates a "devil's bargain" with the likes of General Electric, Caterpillar, and Microsoft, which often includes giving away proprietary technology while, at the same time, allowing a Chinese majority stake in any operation set up on Chinese soil. Often these "devil's bargains" promise access to the Chinese consumer market, does in reality the exact opposite.

Globally, China has launched a war of conquest. It's aim is nothing less than acquiring resources, be it in Africa, South America, or the Middle East, for the sole purpose of crippling the economies of the West, Japan, South Korea, India, and Southeast Asia. At the same time, China continues to manipulates its currency, while buying up US debt; in effect, making it the banker that allows this country to continue to function. Can you imagine your biggest competitor or worse enemy controlling your checkbook?

China has openly declared global war, and on America in particular. They are in this for the long haul. Their goal, as trite as it may sound to Post-Cold War ears, is world domination. This war is not one of guerilla insurgencies or vast armies. It's one of economics. It's being fought on every level in every country. It's a war we should be winning, but we've bought the rope instead.

Authors Navarro and Autry have done an exemplary job of explaining the new rules of engagement. The final chapter, "Life with China: How to Survive and Prosper in the Dragon's Century", brings it all together with their suggestions on how to level out the playing field, and start winning while there's still time. To paraphrase former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, in a global economy, everything is local. If you're concerned about your job, you need to read this book.

2 comments:

WindDragon said...

Would like to read the book. I don't really thing that anything Goverment is "super" anything

Another Opinion said...

By way of a postscript to "Death by China", take a look at what's happening in California; specifically in the Bay Area where a Chinese company is building a new San Francisco-Oakland bridge. While the paving and assembly of the bridge is expected to be done by Americans, the construction of the bridge is all Chinese. The estimated cost of the bridge is $7.2 billion dollars. California officials claim that by outsourcing the construction, in this case to China, they actually saved $400 million dollars. To avoid "Made in America" restrictions tied to federal money, California opted to pay for the bridge by issuing bonds and hopes to recover the costs through tolls.

According to Brian Peterson, the project director for the American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises joint venture, which is responsible for the bridge's construction, "I don't think the US fabrication industry could put a project like this together". Really? Despite the fact the Chinese companies are regularly winning construction contracts, such as New York's subway system, there remains the issue of poor quality workmanship and low grade steel. And what about the thousands of unemployed or underemployed union and non-union construction workers in this country? Cheaper is not always better.