Some mistakes die hard. House Republicans, eager to paint democrats as opposed to negotiations, are proposing a new Super Committee. The so-called Super Committee was the result of the last round of 11th hour negotiations over the debt limit, the ill-fated attempt to forge compromise out of concentrated congressional privilege. The last Super Committee enjoyed the prospect of direct access to the House and Senate floor for their recommendations (had they produced any), to be created in an environment completely insulated from the press, constituents and electoral consequences. (Though lobbyists still had no problems penetrating it.) While it's unclear how this Super Committee would be structured, it's unlikely to matter much since it appears to be another dead-end ploy from House Republicans trying to paint their long-organized defunding effort as some sort of play for greater compromise in Washington. The Super Committee was a secretive, misbegotten failure the first time around, and we should consider ourselves lucky if this one never gets taken seriously.Continue reading
“Fiscal Cliff” Casts Shadow of Secrecy
Just like the debt limit negotiations and Supercommittee process that helped cause it, the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring laws is creating another round of secretive negotiations among our political leaders. The heads of both parties now thrive on stories of impending fiscal consequences, even when they're of their own making.To cope with a polarized electorate, our leaders have figured out a way to create an apparent impending disaster that is unpalatable regardless of one's ideology. Whatever the outcome of their fight with each other, they've created a dystopian future against which they can be made to look like heroes warding off impending doom with their brave bipartisanship.
It doesn't really matter which party started it (both of them) or whether this was avoidable (it was), because divided government has again led us to a place where the most important policy decisions are probably going to be made in secret, and then passed down to the rest of us.
While online disclosure and dialog don't threaten to take away politicians' power anytime soon, they do represent our best chance at elevating substance, rewarding merit, and reducing undue influence, whether in crafting legislation or in dealing with the struggles of divided government. Sunlight's approach to government transparency has made us skeptical observers of these political negotiations, and as we find ourselves entering yet another cycle, we decided to ask:
What can we expect of the next month, and what should we do about it?Continue reading
Sunlight’s Priorities for the Next Administration
Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the next administration will have enormous power to say how open our government will be. We have organized our priorities for the next administration below, to share where we think our work on executive branch issues will be focused, in advance of the election results. From money in politics to open data, spending, and freedom of information, we'll be working to open up the Executive Branch. We'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for Sunlight's Executive Branch work, please leave additional ideas in the comments below. (We'll also be sharing other recommendations soon, including a legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, and a suite of reform proposals for the House and Senate rules packages.) Sunlight Reform Agenda for the Next Administration:Continue reading
Boehner’s 72 Hour Pledges, Condensed
Throughout the last year, we’ve repeatedly pointed out that Speaker Boehner repeatedly pledged to put all bills online for 72... View ArticleContinue reading
Lobbyist Bundler Data Includes Giving to Super Committee
Of the 12 members of the failed supercommittee that were tasked with cutting $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit, five... View ArticleContinue reading
On Supercommittee Failure
It looks increasingly likely that the supercommittee is going to fail to recommend a deficit reduction package to Congress. As it... View ArticleContinue reading
Reporter’s Notebook: Understanding the automatic cuts if the supercommittee can’t deliver
With the supercommittee's deadline only five days away, the special deficit-cutting panel's chances of reaching a deal appear to be in doubt. And if no agreement is reached, more than one trillion dollars in cuts would be set in motion starting in 2013. That is, if the Congress and president allow the automatic trigger to take effect.
All of this is predicated on budget forecasting, a notoriously inaccurate art. As the CBO pointed out in a September report, an analysis based on projected baseline budgets and economic projections are “subject to a considerable degree of uncertainty.” Indeed, we ...Continue reading
Senators on super committee collecting less campaign cash this quarter
All but one Senate member on the super committee collected less campaign funds this quarter compared the previous quarter. Only Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, had a modest increase collecting a total of $85,532.
So far in this election cycle, Portman has raised $53,000 from individuals and $106,000 from PACs. Here's a compilation of all of recent PAC donations to Portman’s election committee.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, raised $30,654 in the third quarter of the year; that is 85% less than she raised in the second quarter. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass raised $16,135 this ...Continue reading
Video Recap: Haunt the House
Halloween may be over, but our fight for greater Super Committee transparency isn’t. Want to know what Haunt the House... View ArticleContinue reading
The Super Committee and November 23rd
Conventional wisdom holds that if the Super Committee does not come up with a plan to reduce the federal deficit... View ArticleContinue reading