Thursday, February 18, 2010

The President's Commission

David Corn, editor of Mother Jones, on Countdown last night, referring to the President’s bipartisan commission for finding ways to cut the deficit,

And I‘m not a big fan of the deficit commission. I believe that Congress and the White House should man up and woman up and deal with this without a commission. I don‘t like the way that too often people run to commissions when there‘s a tough problem here.

Wow, not only Countdown, but Mother Jones, and I’m agreeing with him.

The problem is, of course, that Congress and the White House won’t “man up and woman up and deal with this without a commission,” any more than they were able to do so on the issue of closing military bases. So how did that “commission” work out?

It’s really hard to tell. It did get bases closed and reduce the expense of maintaining domestic bases which clearly were no longer needed. How well it removed politics from that process is, in my admittedly rather limited view, a bit questionable. I say limited, in that I really do not have access to all of the facts involved, which does not prevent me from having questions.

The commission process put New London Submarine Base on the closure list and then, after a hue and cry and some prating by politicians, took it back off again. Disclosure requires that I admit to an emotional connection to that facility and a major sense of relief when its closure was cancelled.

The Navy had three basic training facilities; Great Lakes near Chicago, San Diego, and a new one in Orlando. Deciding to keep only one, they kept Great Lakes. I went to boot camp there, and that place was a dump even then, so I have a very hard time imagining why it was a better choice than either of the two that were, ahem, on the coasts. You know, where Navy ships are. The San Diego facility certainly looked to me to be in better shape, and the Orlando one was almost brand new. It may be that sales values of the land were a factor, but still…

Mirimar Naval Air Station is a piece of prime land in the middle of San Diego, and the Navy didn’t really need it any more. So you’d think they would close it and recoup a lot of money selling it for development, or let San Diego build a new airport there. No. They close a Marine Air Station that is in the middle of nowhere, worthless land, and move the Marines to Miramar. Again, that may have made very good sense, but didn’t look like it to a lot of citizens of San Diego who wanted a new airport.

I don’t really know that those were bad decisions; they may not actually have been. And in any case, the commission did get done something that Congress was not getting done; it reduced the expenditures for domestic military bases. So, while like David Corn I’m not “a fan” of commissions, if that’s what’s needed to get action taken by Congress, then by all means let’s have commissions.

And I applaud Obama for stepping in where Congress pulled a balk.

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