GOP Super Committee Appointees Don't Understand What Caused The Debt

August 10, 2011 3:03 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

This morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced their selections for the bipartisan "super committee" tasked with formulating a plan to reduce the deficit. Unfortunately, if predictably, the Republican selections don't offer much hope of a reasonable compromise.

Indeed, it's difficult for lawmakers to solve a problem they don't understand — or whose cause they refuse to acknowledge — which makes Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) a troubling choice. Last month on the House floor, Camp brandished a wildly misleading chart purporting to show that "President Obama's actions" produced "twice the debt in half the time" as the Bush administration. However, Camp erroneously blamed Obama for spending in a fiscal year that began before his inauguration, while ignoring the destructive and ongoing fiscal impact of unfunded wars and tax cuts Camp supported.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the chairman of the House Republican Conference, is a similar case. At a GOP retreat in February 2010, Hensarling famously faced off with the president over the source of the deficit; independent fact checkers judged Hensarling the loser of that showdown, but his party rewarded him with a promotion anyway. Hensarling has also railed against "job-destroying" funding for public radio and likened the Affordable Care Act to European socialized medicine, indicating that the supposed policy "expertise" that vaulted him into the party leadership may have been exaggerated.

McConnell's selections — Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Rob Portman (R-OH) — aren't any more encouraging. Kyl fundamentally opposes offsetting the cost of tax cuts, while Toomey, the former head of the anti-tax Club for Growth, opposed the recent debt agreement because it wasn't right-wing enough. Meanwhile, Portman served as the budget director in the Bush administration, making his inclusion in a group charged with paying Bush's bills something of a farce.