I've always liked Rep. Fred Upton personally, and I've never been as down on him as some other conservatives. He's a good guy, a hard worker, and a thoughtful man. But it boggles the mind that Speaker Boehner just appointed him to the debt/budget supercommittee, along with Jeb Hensarling (a great pick) and Dave Camp, an obvious choice since he is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Upton? And this is supposed to reassure conservatives that the committee won't go wobbly by allowing real tax hikes?
Upton's record on taxes, it must be said, is pretty good. Most of his diversions from conservatism have come on other issues. But the fact remains that he isn't exactly a hard-liner; his whole modus operandi is to seek compromise. If the committee caves on taxes, it will be no surprise if the Republican who caves is Fred Upton.
Meanwhile, it is beyond mind-boggling that the biggest expert we have on our side, Paul Ryan, isn't on the supercommittee. What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks?! Nobody understands all this stuff better than Ryan; nobody explains it more understandably than Ryan; nobody enjoys credibility with the media like Ryan does. And, for that matter, nobody intimidates -- yes, intimidates, by sheer force of intellect -- Barack Obama like Paul Ryan does. Keeping him off the committee is akin to the Colts earning a Super Bowl berth and then voluntarily de-activating a healty Peyton Manning.
My hopes for the super-committee just dropped by about 75 percent, and my fears rose accordingly.
Ryan put out a statement saying he asked not to be on the supercommittee. His logic makes no sense to me, and Boehner should have convinced him it is his duty to serve on the supercommittee. Meanwhile, even if Ryan just won't do it, it still makes no sense not to have a more solid conservative than Upton. Why not a pro-defense, anti-tax freshman like Allen West? Why not RSC Chair Jim Jordan? The Upton choice makes no sense.
Also, the Senate GOP choices now are in, too. I like them a lot better. Nobody is more solid than Jon Kyl. Pat Toomey is a conservative's conservative, and as anti-tax as anybody in Congress. And Rob Portman, as former director of OMB, is a real expert -- and he was OMB director exactly during the time Bush was pushing his tax cuts, which he thus has a stake in protecting.
A wise person, in the know, notes that Upton's Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over Medicaid, and that Republicans want Medicaid savings in the final deal -- and that Upton is thought to be solid on Medicaid issues. This at least helps explain the choice, but in my mind still doesn't justify it. Another idea: If not Ryan, then why not Budget vice chair Scott Garrett of New Jersey, with his 100 ACU rating?
On the other hand, the Dems may have given conservatives a gift by appointing Max Baucus. He can be an unpleasant personality, but he really is a deal-maker who has been genuinely more moderate on some issues, including taxes, than some other Demo senators.