There were no real surprises among the choices made by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell for the Catfood Commission II. It’s perhaps interesting to note that Paul Ryan didn’t make the cut, but I guess Boehner figured that he’s toxic and therefore not a good face to put on the committee. Instead, Boehner picked two heads of other committees with jurisdiction over health programs and taxes, and made the chair a member of the original Catfood Commission as well as the House Leadership.
Jeb Hensarling*, Dave Camp, Fred Upton
So this is the Hensarling-Murray committee, and I don’t see how those two will find one thing to work together on. While Camp declared health care repeal “dead” earlier this year as well as rejecting putting up the Ryan Medicare plan for a vote in his Ways and Means Committee, he’s not exactly someone who would radically shift away from the stated agenda of House Republicans. He has indicated interest in individual corporate tax reform, but his tax plan would radically lower the top marginal rates to 25%. Fred Upton went from authoring the bill to increase light bulb standards to screaming about saving the incandescent light bulb, so any independent thought has been pounded out of him.
As for the Senate:
Jon Kyl, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey
So one retiring member of Senate leadership, and two freshmen. Portman was George Bush’s OMB Director, Toomey ran the Club for Growth. If there’s anything but orthodoxy coming from these three, I’d be shocked. Kyl was in the Biden talks over the debt limit; Portman wrote an op-ed saying it was a good idea to hold the debt limit hostage; Toomey wanted investors paid off first and Social Security beneficiaries stiffed. There isn’t a lot of daylight here. I don’t think any of these three were involved in any way in creating or even endorsing the Gang of Six recommendations.
Basically, these selections were interchangeable. There isn’t a great deal of ideological diversity in the Republican caucus. You could have picked names out of a hat. None of these six are going to diverge in any meaningful way from party orthodoxy on taxes, and all will seek to slash safety net programs.