President Obama already has the full list of the members of his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform – known as the Debt Commission. Let’s take a closer look at the line up of the folks that will come together to fight for the American future.
• Eskine Bowles (Democratic Co-Chair – appointed by President Obama) – Currently serves on the board of directors of General Motors Corporation, Morgan Stanley (where he began his career), Cousins Properties Inc. and NC Mutual Life Insurance Co. Bowles is President of the University of North Carolina.
MBA from Columbia University. Served as White House Chief of Staff for President Clinton . Bowles lost two bids for US Senate. Let’s hope he does not hold a grudge because he will have to work with bunch of Senators on the commission.
Bowles is highly qualified to chair a commission of that rank because he has experience in the high echelons of business and partisan politics. Bowles is a Big Shark that swims well in the risky waters of Wall-street and in the murky waters of politics. He has great knowledge in many different parts of the spectrum of life – from money to fighting diabetes and charity that gives him survival skills necessary to move up the food chain in Washington DC quickly and effectively.
• Alan Kooi Simpson (Republican Co-Chair – Appointed by president Obama) – professional politician. He served as a US Senator from Wyoming from 1979 to 1997. J D degree from the University of Wyoming. His knowledge about the US economy comes mostly from his serving on various senatorial committees including: chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Immigration and Refugee Subcommittee of Judiciary; the Nuclear Regulation Subcommittee; the Social Security Subcommittee and the Committee on Aging.
His father, Milward L. Simpson, was among the six Republican members who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This fact may be the reason for Simpson’s “overreaction” in his career on social issues where he expressed consistently liberal positions.
Obama’s choice for Republican co-chair is somewhat disappointing for many conservatives. Simpson is a Washington insider which is not a popular thing to be in the recent days of the politics. It is not likely for Simpson to be a strong voice in cutting social spending. He was also caricatured as a Senator who is an alien from another planet in a ’94 supermarket paper saga. Alan Simpson has a great sense of humor and he is likely to produce many laughs while co-chairing Obama’s commission, but (with all due respect to the good old Senator Simpson) he is just being used by the President to serve as a caricature of the Republican Party.
• Alice Mitchell Rivlin (Presidential Appointee – Democrat)- is an economist and an expert on the budget. She was Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the first director of the CBO. Currently on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange.
Rivlin was discovered by President Lyndon Johnson and started in the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Cabinet Department that is the root cause of the biggest financial problems in America today). She is the author of Systematic Thinking for Social Action. Not a fan of Reagan’s approach to economy.
Rivlin is highly qualified to serve on the commission with her lifetime of experience. She is a professional who is able to work in bipartisan environment. Rivilin’s take on the current budget situation:
Since there is no hope of putting the budget on a sustainable track without unpopular measures to slow the future growth of entitlement spending supplemented by equally unpopular revenue increases, bipartisan action is absolutely necessary.
Middle class may expect creative ways to be taxed without even realizing it. At least Alice Rivlin will take your money without making you suffer while giving it.
• David M. “Dave” Cote (Presidential Appointee -Republican) – is the Chairman and CEO of Honeywell. Cote served as chairman, president and CEO of TRW. He joined TRW from General Electric.
BA in business administration from the University of New Hampshire. Cote is also a member of the Board of Directors at JP Morgan Chase and is an adviser to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR).
He is another “Republican” Obama appointee. Cote supported the Stimulus and the Cap-and Trade monstrosities. Cote is into the green energy and IT. GOP is not happy that he is calling himself a republican. Cote is a regular playmate in the Obama’s Favorite CEOs Playground.
• Andy Stern (Presidential Appointee – Democrat) – President of the SEIU, represents 2.2 million union workers in US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. “Workers of the world unite” is a slogan he believes in. Most frequent visitor to the White House.
Obama’s blog presents him as: “Aggressive advocate for practical solutions to achieve economic opportunity and justice for workers.” So far he gets what he wants from the White House – including the waiver of the health insurance tax for union members in the health care bill, billions to save union jobs in the stimulus package, GM and Chrysler bailouts. Obama’s appointee will probably stay on the way of any measure that stops the gravy train of benefits to the union workers. Many union benefits are turning into a death weight of unfunded liabilities for businesses, states and the federal bureaucracy. Don’t expect the Obama commission to address these issues drastically.
• Ann M. Fudge (Presidential Appointee – Democrat)Independent Director in General Electric Board of Directors.
M.B.A. from Harvard University. Fudge served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Young & Rubicam. Worked at General Mills and at General Foods, where she served in a number of positions including president of Kraft General Foods’ Maxwell House Coffee Company. Looks like she knows the coffee but what about the tea? Ann Fudge is a director of Novartis AG and Unilever PLC. She is chair of the U.S. Program Advisory Panel of the Gates Foundation, a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation and the vice chairman of the board of overseers of Harvard University.
• Kent Conrad (Senator D-ND) – MBA from The George Washington University.
Currently Conrad is Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. He is for drilling, opposed “public option” in health care. Conrad wants to balance the budget by taxing the rich and repealing the Bush tax-cuts.
Socially conservative, but the culture wars are not the object of the debt commission. Conrad is fiscally responsible Democrat who will work for reducing the deficits, but will prefer the the rich (people earning over 1 million dollars) to fill the gap.
• Max Baucus (Senator D-MT). BA in economics and JD from Stanford University. Current chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Baucus played the key role in the debate over health care bill. He lead bipartisan effort in the finance commission to pass the Senate version of the bill which has no public option and is deficit neutral (by raising half billion from taxes and cutting half billion from Medicare). The bill has a chance to become law if the House members agree to vote for it word for word without changes. The bill is unpopular because it contains mandatory insurance for all Americans (including the 6 million living abroad) and the language gives wiggle room for tax-payer money to be used for abortion. Senator Baucus is passionate about his bill and was able to stand for it even under influence (of alleged drink or two).
• Richard (Dick)Joseph Durbin (Senator D-IL)- J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Lawyer and career politician.
Most likely to take Senator Reid’s position as Senate Democrats leader if the current number one loses in the November Nevada elections.
Durbin has a history supporting Barack Obama since his time in the Chicago politics. Very influential in the Democratic Party. Most of his high profile battles were on highly partisan issues. May be too polarizing for this commission.
• Judd Gregg (Senator R-NH) – Master of Laws from Boston University, former Governor of New Hampshire . Current ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. Gregg was a businessman and attorney before entering politics. Gregg was President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce after Bill Richardson’s resignations. Gregg accepted but later withdrew his name citing issues of disagreement over the census and the fiscal policies. Gregg will not run for re-election in November which gave him opportunity to come up with plans that are not very popular among public including his CPR for the health care which in many ways reminds Obama care (including individual mandate and taxes). Gregg was the leading Republican negotiator and author of the TARP program. He made sure to include language in the bill that prohibits the repaid TARP money to be used for things other than deficit reduction.
• Mike Crapo (Senator R-ID) – J.D. from Harvard Law School .
Another lawyer. Currently serves on the Banking, Housing and Urban Development; Budget; Environment and Public Works; Indian Affairs; and Finance Committees. Mike Crapo is the founder and Co-Chair of the Senate Nuclear Cleanup Caucus.
His common sense approaches make possible for him to support clean environment while moving forward the energy independence agenda.
Most likely he will be pushing the Republican’s drilling for oil and nuclear energy agenda.
• Tom Coburn (Senator R-OK)- B .S. in accounting from Oklahoma State University, a medical degree from the University of Oklahoma Medical School. He delivered more than four thousand babies in his obstetrician practice.
Coburn is a fighter against pork-barrel spending and corruption in Washington. Reducing the fraud in Medicare and Medicaid is Coburn’s top priority in the health care reform. He co-authored the Patients Choice Act of 2009.
Coburn is a very popular with the cultural conservatives. The abortion is not going to be a central issue of the debt commission but hopefully the wasteful spending will be and Coburn will be watching.
• Paul Ryan (Republican Congressman from Wisconsin)- BA degree in economics and political science from Miami University in Ohio. His Roadmap to Recovery is the only plan out there for reducing the deficit that has enough details to be scored by the CBO. The Roadmap includes a sweeping tax-reform and a whole new Medicare for the folks that today are younger than 55 years. Paul Ryan is definitely a star in the GOP today. He may not be so popular when the Democrats start screaming propaganda like: Ryan will take your Medicare and Earned Income Credit welfare away! Many folks are only conservative until they are asked to take responsibility for their actions. The rest are only democrats until they are asked to pay for the social perks they are getting.
• Dave Camp (Republican Congressman from Michigan)- J.D. from the University of San Diego.
Camp is currently the Ranking Member on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. It is the hive where the tax-codes are created. The tax-code is so complicated that even the chairman of the Ways and means Committee was not able to figure it out correctly.
Camp is planning to use his lawyer background to make sure the tax-code becomes less complicated and with fewer loop-holes.
The insolvency of the Social Security and the Medicare will be a main focus of the Obama commission. Hopefully Camp will come up with not very painful ideas to stop the social programs assault on the US budget.
• Jeb Hensarling (Republican Congressman from Texas)- BA in economics from Texas A&M University, JD from University of Texas at Austin. Currently serves on the House Committee on the Budget and the House Committee on Financial Services.
He voted against TARP. Hensarling is a true fiscal conservative. He knows the budget inside and out. The tandem Ryan-Hensarling will be able to find every hidden tax the liberals try to sneak into the Obama Debt Commission report and blow the whistle if it affects the middle class.
These are the actors. Are you ready to rumble?