Super Congress debt reduction has little transparency!

on . Posted in Patriot News Network

WASHINGTON (PNN) - August 2, 2011 - The proposed so-called "super Congress," created by congressional leaders in the debt deal and required to find $1.5 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years, could wind up making those decisions behind closed doors, away from the public eye.

The text of the budget deal reached by congressional leaders contains few specific public disclosure provisions for the committee. The standing committees of Congress are allowed to send suggestions for ways to reduce the debt to the super committee members, but there is, as of yet, no provision for the disclosure of those reports. The final report is required to be publicly disclosed upon completion, however there is no requirement that the report be placed online. There are also no official requirements for webcasting of committee meetings.

"Anything that they are getting should be made public," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "If someone is going to send something to the committee and say, 'this is what our opinions are', (then) the public has a right to know that."

Transparency advocates want to make sure the super committee operates in the open and in a manner that is responsive to the public, especially as it is tasked with crafting such an important policy.

"Since they have a direct route to the floor and the bill can't be amended, this committee should be accountable to the public," said John Wonderlich, policy director of the Sunlight Foundation. "It's not just that we see the bill when it's finished, but we see what was proposed beforehand."

"I think it's disappointing that they didn't put more transparency into the legislation," said Project on Government Oversight's Angela Canterbury, director of public policy. "The only thing that I saw in the legislation was that they should make public their proposal and legislative language. That's not going to cut it. That's not even the minimum we should expect."

Aside from the specific language contained in the bill, the super committee could fall flat on transparency by simply following the rules for committee openness.

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