Commentary: Surprise! Budget “Supercommittee” Is Mostly White Men

Though America is one of the most diverse nations in the world, the group built to cut American programs is almost all white.

Posted: 08/18/2011 06:45 PM EDT
Filed Under budget, debt crisis, Economy

When the Democrats and the Republicans made their 11th-hour debt deal last month, one thing they agreed upon was that, aside from cutting $900 billion in spending now, a “supercommittee” would be formed to cut more than $1 trillion more from the budget in the coming months. Composed of six Republicans and six Democrats, the supercommittee is supposed to be a fair and balanced group with the country’s best interests in mind. If we’re talking party, the body is indeed fair and balanced. Alas, if we’re talking about everything else, it’s anything but.

 

Though they had many from which to choose, the supercommittee picked only one African-American, Rep. James Clyburn, one Latino, Rep. Xavier Bacerra and one woman, Sen. Patty Murray to be in the group. The rest are white men, and all the minorities included are Democrats. This imbalanced composition is discriminatory on its face, and not at all representative of what America looks like. However, it’s especially problematic considering the supercommittee’s job.

 

In short, the body is there to make cuts to government programs. They need to decrease U.S. spending and they’re going to do that by going after programs they deem unnecessary. The problem is that having wealthy, powerful white men determine what’s necessary and what isn’t is a dangerous proposition.

 

As is noted on this blog, the GOP has been gunning for programs like Head Start and Pell Grants, financial opportunities that greatly benefit African-Americans, for a long time now — well before this supercommittee had been formed. Many Blacks, who are disproportionately poor and other low-income people really need those programs to get out of the negative situation they’re in. Does James Clyburn, a relatively affluent man in a tremendous power position, completely understand the plight of those poor Blacks? Probably not. But he certainly has a better understanding of them than, say, John Kerry, a Democratic multimillionaire from Massachusetts.

 

Since its inception the U.S. government hasn’t reflected the people it’s supposed to represent, so it’s not a surprise that it still doesn’t. Still, one would hope they keep the common Americans in mind while slashing and burning important programs.

(Photos: AP)

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