For most of us, this week marks the final countdown to Halloween, a time to gather wigs and face paint before the clock runs out this weekend.
But this year, the clock is also ticking on Capitol Hill — not for Halloween, but for the Super Committee. Today, we are less than one month from the presentation of the Committee’s recommendations before Congress. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. The Super Committee has been charged with cutting $1.5 trillion from the national deficit in a single bound with no measures (zero, zip, nada) to make this unprecedented process transparent. So, when the Committee began to dodge their own rules about holding (nominally) public meetings, there were no mechanisms in place to hold them accountable.
But closed-door meetings aren’t the worst of it. Last month, a lobbyist predicted that the special interest activity around the committee would be “like the Crusades.” Just the other day, Politico reported that “in just six weeks, nearly 200 companies and special interests have reported that they’re lobbying the 12-member committee” (emphasis mine). (Check out Sunlight’s reporting on the lobbying here.) And how much disclosure is required of these 12 members, to ensure that this most significant committee does not fall to the backroom malaise of so many of their peers? None. Sure, they have to file quarterly, as usual, but in order for this process to be accountable — heck, democratic — the public must know who is meeting with our legislators, what issues they’re pushing for, and what sort of campaign contributions are coming in real time as these things happen. Otherwise, we won’t find out any of this information until January, well after the Committee has submitted their recommendations to the rest of Congress.
Whether you’re a firm supporter of Social Security or tax reform (up, or down), whether you care about the environment or supporting our troops, you need to care about what’s happening with this Super Committee. A $1.5 trillion cut is nothing to sneeze at. We’re all going to feel it. But why should we have to wait months after the decisions are made and the work is done to be spooked by the results? We — as in the public, the constituents our elected officials are supposed to represent — cannot be be closed out of one of the most important economic decisions in US history in favor of well-funded special interests.
Lobbying Problem? Solution: Haunt the House
Apparently, the only way to get this message to Congress is to say it in person. So, this Halloween, Sunlight, along with a broad coalition of partners, is asking you to join us as we Haunt the House (and the Senate). On October 31st, citizens all over the country will be visiting the district offices of members of the Super Committee. If you’re represented by
- Rep. Hensarling (TX)
- Sen. Murray (WA)
- Sen. Baucus (MT)
- Rep. Becerra (CA)
- Rep. Camp (MI)
- Rep. Clyburn (SC)
- Sen. Kerry (MA)
- Sen. Kyl (AZ)
- Sen. Portman (OH)
- Sen. Toomey (PA)
- Rep. Upton (MI), or
- Rep. Van Hollen (MD)
…You should click here to find your closest district office and join (or sign up to lead) a meetup. Not in a Super Committee district? No problem. We’ll update soon with ways you can support the movement.
Keep your eyes on the blog this week for more about this epic haunting. In the meantime, if you’re interested in getting involved or having your organization sign-on to our campaign, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.