Everything that's wrong with the so-called debt "super-committee" can be summed up in the person, partisan hackery and policy ignorance of Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid named Murray co-chair of the dog-and-pony deficit-reduction panel tasked with identifying $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by late November. Murray, an unrepentant Nanny State cheerleader and patron saint of the Washington lobbyist, is a double-exclamation point on the debt deal's rotten joke.
Charlie Brown had Peppermint Patty. America has U.S. Mint Patty. This is a career politician who has never met a special interest that shouldn't be supported by taxpayers. Derided for her earmark addiction by both conservative and liberal civic groups, she has cemented her position as the Senate Queen of Pork over 18 gluttonous years in office.
Murray takes perverse pride in increasing debt limits on pet projects in her home state. Her solution to our fiscal crisis: Spend, borrow, spend and borrow some more! In 2009, she stuffed the Obama porkulus with a $3.25 billion provision benefiting the federal Bonneville Power Administration by massively expanding its spending authority. Murray then claimed to have spurred immediate job creation. But the left-leaning Seattle Times countered that "even without the new stimulus package, BPA was expected to begin construction of some new transmission lines this year. And, despite claims the added spending power will quickly create jobs, construction of many of the new power lines wouldn't start for several years."
The real impediment to construction progress? Onerous regulation, regulation, regulation. BPA insiders acknowledged that no one was actually pushing for the debt-limit increase. But Murray has an old habit of forking over unsolicited pork. National Review's Andrew Stiles reports that she once inserted a $4.5 million earmark for a Naval speedboat it didn't want: "The Navy ended up giving the boat to the University of Washington, which couldn't find a use for it either. Top executives at Guardian Marine International, the company that built the boat, later gave $15,000 to Murray's campaign."
Profligate Patty is a slavish adherent of federal entitlements for every American (and illegal alien) from cradle to grave — except, of course, for the unborn targets of Murray's fanatical sisters at Planned Parenthood.
When House Republicans challenged public funding for the $1 billion abortion industry giant (which rakes in one-third of its budget from government grants and contracts at both the state and federal levels), Murray led the defense.
It was "stunning to her as a woman," she raged, that fiscal conservatives would challenge Planned Parenthood's sacred subsidies. As if only men are capable of questioning the insatiable appetite of a predatory racket disguised as a "reproductive health" provider.
The fabled "outsider mom in tennis shoes" has morphed over the past two decades into just another Beltway swamp insider in sensible heels. Murray has earned the scorn not just of right-wing taxpayer groups, but also of left-wing watchdogs who flagged her 17 revolving-door staffers-turned-lobbyists and fundraising conflicts of interest. Murray, you see, is the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — and refuses to cease her money-grubbing while she serves on the debt panel.
"It really sends a bad message to the American people when you're the chief fundraiser trying to come up with this balanced approach to deficit reduction," Adam Smith, communications director of Public Campaign, told The Hill newspaper. "She's going to be focused on this committee and also on fundraising? Will she make decisions based on whether it hurts the fundraising ability of the (DSCC)?" Do pigs oink? Duh.
The Democratic leadership's top priority isn't to get America's fiscal house in order. It is, as one aide candidly told The Hill, "to continue to raise resources to grow and preserve our majority."
Above all else, Murray is a glaring symbol of the Democratic Party's intellectual bankruptcy when it comes to solving our entitlement mess. More than a decade ago, while I served as the youngest member of the Seattle Times editorial board, I asked her about the disproportionate burden that FICA taxes imposed on Generation X and low-income workers. I wanted to know if she supported creative alternatives to the Social Security system like the opt-out plan adopted by the cities of Bellevue, Wash., and Galveston, Texas.
"FICA?" she repeated with a puzzled glance at her entourage of D.C. staffers.
"You know, payroll taxes," I added helpfully.
Response: Deer in the headlights.
Only when young and future workers have K Street lobbyists will Pork Patty get a clue.