Kicking the can to the committee (5×8 – 8/1/11)

An old solution surfaces in Washington, Dakota’s water world, the mansion by the lake, the blue screen of matrimonial death, and juggling Minnesota.

The Monday Morning Rouser:



We could’ve awoken to financial Armageddon this morning, but the leaders played the “committee card” late yesterday and things are OK, now. President Obama’s deal calls for $2.2 trillion in cuts — that’s easier to say than actually do, of course — and a committee.

That sent us scurrying to the quotations book…

“A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide that nothing can be done.” — Fred Allen

“To get something done a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent.” — Robert Copeland

“We always carry out by committee anything in which any one of us alone would be too reasonable to persist.” Frank Moore Colby

Theoretically, the whole mess has been in a committee — a really big committee. A really big dysfunctional committee, which is probably a redundant phrase.

Few people have already pointed out we already have a committee. The president had already created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, whose charter was “identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.”

It held six meetings and then issued its final report, which did not call for more committees. It recommended cutting $4 trillion from the budget, too much for too many people, so it went to the great committee cemetery, the dusty bottom of someone’s file cabinet.

Last evening, the president announced how the committee will work:

It establishes a bipartisan committee of Congress to report back by November with a proposal to further reduce the deficit, which will then be put before the entire Congress for an up or down vote. In this stage, everything will be on the table. To hold us all accountable for making these reforms, tough cuts that both parties would find objectionable would automatically go into effect if we don’t act. And over the next few months, I’ll continue to make a detailed case to these lawmakers about why I believe a balanced approach is necessary to finish the job.

This is similar to the committee which decides which military bases to close. It gives Congress deniability when a local base is closed. The committee makes them do it.

There’ll be a vote on the deal today.


A river makes an unpredictable neighbor, residents of South Dakota have learned. It’s the same thing people in the Fargo Moorhead area have known for more than a decade but what’s happening to our neighbor to the west is astonishing. The New York Times took a look at the situation over the weekend and found developers are building where they shouldn’t be building. It also found that whenever a flood protection measure was taken — a levee, for example — development crept closer to it.

Ironically, perhaps, the solid-redt state of South Dakota is looking to the government…

Down the road at Riv-R-Land Estates, Tom Koob looked at the rows of houses protruding from the widened river. Upset that more money and effort was focused on protecting the much larger and wealthier Dakota Dunes, Mr. Koob said he hoped for federal support to rebuild.

“I don’t want it to seem like we’re looking for a handout,” he said. “Since we didn’t get the support that some of the other communities got on the front end, it would be nice to get some support on the back end.”

If we follow this logic, because a development went in without first having the federal government build flood control, the federal government should pay well-off people for their ruined homes because the federal government hadn’t spent money on them up until that point.

Check out this slideshow.


“Lake home.” It certainly conjures up images of a rustic cabin. The Fargo Forum, though, has the first part of a two-part look at high-end lake homes.

Public records show that nearly 30 lakeshore properties in Becker County and nearly 60 in Otter Tail County are valued at $1 million or more, based on the assessed value of both the structures and the land they sit on.

One family’s home is up for sale for $2.5 million. It’s perfect, the sellers say, for people looking for a family compound.


Another sign the Apocalypse is upon us.

Over the weekend, Rev. Bit married a couple in Texas. The reverend is a computer. The couple met on a website called Sweet on Geeks.

The groom created a program to officiate at the wedding.

“If anyone here has anything to say that might change their minds or has any objections, they do not want to hear it and I will not recognize your objections since Miguel has programmed me to only recognize his commands,” it announced.

Somewhat related: Some Minnesota Somali parents are concerned about the growing trend of interracial marriage. But race is one thing, the MPR story today says, religion is quite another.


So that’s it, then. July is in the books. The highlight? The state shutdown? The debt crisis? We’re going with the International Juggling Festival in Rochester.

Bonus: Every day should start off with video of a Yankees fan getting hit in the nose…


Congressional leaders and the president have reached a deal that, if passed, will raise the debt limit and cut trillions of dollars in spending over the next decade. Today’s Question: What do you think of the deal to raise the debt ceiling?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Are we approaching the our economic problems properly?

Second hour: Planning the perfect vacation.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The latest from the debt debate. Guest: George Washington University’s Steven Smith.

Second hour: The future of relations between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: Shame and humiliation.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Robert Bly’s new poetry collection “Talking into the Ears of a Donkey,” is being hailed as a tour de force by critics. While some of the poems are funny, however, there is an undercurrent of longing and grief which Bly credits to his age. MPR’s Euan Kerr will provide a reading.

The health care law’s co-op program will provide federal loans to encourage new consumer-run, private health insurers in every state. The idea is these non-profits are supposed provide lower cost and higher quality. Minnesota has the non-profit HMO system. Does it work? MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki will report.

  • Bonus: Every day should start off with video of a Yankees fan getting hit in the face…

    I demur.

  • BenCh

    What a unifying video! Who doesn’t love to watch Yankees fans NOT catch a ball and be rewarded with the ball in the face! I vote that this should have been the Rouser.

  • jon

    “What debt crisis?” –

    Because there is no crisis…

    It’s manufactured…

    It’s a scheme to change the results of elections in the future to favor one party or another…

    I miss the old school news cycles when elections were only thought about every other year, and actual work could get done for a year before politics of elections took hold.

  • JackU

    #1 – I like the deal. Mostly because it is what a deal like this should be, nobody likes but everyone can live with it. The hope is that the leadership of both parties in Congress will put reasonable negotiators on the committee. Basically a group that will go to the bottom drawer of the dusty file cabinet and get the report of the Presidential committee and start with that as framework.

    I expect the Speaker to put people on the committee who can survive an election if they vote for “new revenue” and Majority Leaders to put people on the committee that can survive “cuts to social programs”.

    My vision of the committee would be veteran members from both sides who are “safe” for reelection or ready to retire. Then the rest of the members can then support these measures but get cover in that they were just supporting the Speaker and “the process”.

  • I like the deal because fiscal responsibility seems to have won. Government needs to reign its spending, and we’re getting that. Best part for me is the opportunity for meaningful tax reform.

    As for the the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform – the President skipped some of those meetings. That committee asked him to propose their recommendations in January. The President never did that. He has completely ignored that commission and only turned to their findings once it was too late to truly sell their plan. He should have started selling that plan in January like they asked.

    The reason he didn’t is because their recommendations were politically unpalatable to both sides. It called for tax increases as well as reductions in entitlement benefits. Thing is, Americans want to keep their entitlement benefits and not pay more in taxes. It’s not going to happen.

    Again – the president had a chance to promote his debt committee’s plan – and didn’t.

  • MR

    To recap:

    As we slide back into a recession that we barely came out of (and only some parts of the country even noticed that we came out of it), we’ve chosen to legislate contractionary economic policy in response to a completely made-up “crisis,” and somehow this is a good thing?

  • An additional FYI – the president’s deficit commission recommended deficit reduction in conjunction with raising the debt ceiling.

    How terrible of those GOPers to take the deficit commission’s recommendations so seriously that they’d actually insist on this point. (sarc)

  • GaryF

    Brian Setzer Orchestra.

    Saw the Christmas show about two years ago at Mystic Lake. I’d recommend it to anyone, young or old, rock n roller or classical buff.

    I had a smile on my face for a whole week.

  • Bob Collins

    I was at that show, too! It was great showmanship. It also was the first time I’d been to the venue, which is a terrific place to see a show.