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Don’t like taxes? Then do not do the following…

In Uncategorized on May 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I just love this list, posted on May 20, 2011 by Stephen D. Foster, Jr., here.

1. Do not use Medicare.

2. Do not use Social Security

3. Do not become a member of the US military, who are paid with tax dollars.

4. Do not ask the National Guard to help you after a disaster.

5. Do not call 911 when you get hurt.

6. Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.

7. Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.

8. Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.

9. Do not use public restrooms.

10. Do not send your kids to public schools.

11. Do not put your trash out for city garbage collectors.

12. Do not live in areas with clean air.

13. Do not drink clean water.

14. Do not visit National Parks.

15. Do not visit public museums, zoos, and monuments.

16. Do not eat or use FDA inspected food and medicines.

17. Do not bring your kids to public playgrounds.

18. Do not walk or run on sidewalks.

19. Do not use public recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts.

20. Do not seek shelter facilities or food in soup kitchens when you are homeless and hungry.

21. Do not apply for educational or job training assistance when you lose your job.

22. Do not apply for food stamps when you can’t feed your children.

23. Do not use the judiciary system for any reason.

24. Do not ask for an attorney when you are arrested and do not ask for one to be assigned to you by the court.

25. Do not apply for any Pell Grants.

26. Do not use cures that were discovered by labs using federal dollars.

27. Do not fly on federally regulated airplanes.

28. Do not use any product that can trace its development back to NASA.

29. Do not watch the weather provided by the National Weather Service.

30. Do not listen to severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service.

31. Do not listen to tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake alert systems.

32. Do not apply for federal housing.

33. Do not use the internet, which was developed by the military.

34. Do not swim in clean rivers.

35. Do not allow your child to eat school lunches or breakfasts.

36. Do not ask for FEMA assistance when everything you own gets wiped out by disaster.

37. Do not ask the military to defend your life and home in the event of a foreign invasion.

38. Do not use your cell phone or home telephone.

39. Do not buy firearms that wouldn’t have been developed without the support of the US Government and military. That includes most of them.

40. Do not eat USDA inspected produce and meat.

41. Do not apply for government grants to start your own business.

42. Do not apply to win a government contract.

43. Do not buy any vehicle that has been inspected by government safety agencies.

44. Do not buy any product that is protected from poisons, toxins, etc…by the Consumer Protection Agency.

45. Do not save your money in a bank that is FDIC insured.

46. Do not use Veterans benefits or military health care.

47. Do not use the G.I. Bill to go to college.

48. Do not apply for unemployment benefits.

49. Do not use any electricity from companies regulated by the Department of Energy.

50. Do not live in homes that are built to code.

51. Do not run for public office. Politicians are paid with taxpayer dollars.

52. Do not ask for help from the FBI, S.W.A.T, the bomb squad, Homeland Security, State troopers, etc…

53. Do not apply for any government job whatsoever as all state and federal employees are paid with tax dollars.

54. Do not use public libraries.

55. Do not use the US Postal Service.

56. Do not visit the National Archives.

57. Do not visit Presidential Libraries.

58. Do not use airports that are secured by the federal government.

59. Do not apply for loans from any bank that is FDIC insured.

60. Do not ask the government to help you clean up after a tornado.

61. Do not ask the Department of Agriculture to provide a subsidy to help you run your farm.

62. Do not take walks in National Forests.

63. Do not ask for taxpayer dollars for your oil company.

64. Do not ask the federal government to bail your company out during recessions.

65. Do not seek medical care from places that use federal dollars.

66. Do not use Medicaid.

67. Do not use WIC.

68. Do not use electricity generated by Hoover Dam.

69. Do not use electricity or any service provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

70. Do not ask the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild levees when they break.

71. Do not let the Coast Guard save you from drowning when your boat capsizes at sea.

72. Do not ask the government to help evacuate you when all hell breaks loose in the country you are in.

73. Do not visit historic landmarks.

74. Do not visit fisheries.

75. Do not expect to see animals that are federally protected because of the Endangered Species List.

76. Do not expect plows to clear roads of snow and ice so your kids can go to school and so you can get to work.

77. Do not hunt or camp on federal land.

78. Do not work anywhere that has a safe workplace because of government regulations.

79. Do not use public transportation.

80. Do not drink water from public water fountains.

81. Do not whine when someone copies your work and sells it as their own. Government enforces copyright laws.

82. Do not expect to own your home, car, or boat. Government organizes and keeps all titles.

83. Do not expect convicted felons to remain off the streets.

84. Do not eat in restaurants that are regulated by food quality and safety standards.

85. Do not seek help from the US Embassy if you need assistance in a foreign nation.

86. Do not apply for a passport to travel outside of the United States.

87. Do not apply for a patent when you invent something.

88. Do not adopt a child through your local, state, or federal governments.

89.Do not use elevators that have been inspected by federal or state safety regulators.

90. Do not use any resource that was discovered by the USGS.

91. Do not ask for energy assistance from the government.

92. Do not move to any other developed nation, because the taxes are much higher.

93. Do not go to a beach that is kept clean by the state.

94. Do not use money printed by the US Treasury.

95. Do not complain when millions more illegal immigrants cross the border because there are no more border patrol agents.

96. Do not attend a state university.

97. Do not see any doctor that is licensed through the state.

98. Do not use any water from municipal water systems.

99. Do not complain when diseases and viruses, that were once fought around the globe by the US government and CDC, reach your house.

100. Do not work for any company that is required to pay it’s workers a livable wage, provide them sick days, vacation days, and benefits.

101. Do not expect to be able to vote on election days. Government provides voting booths, election day officials, and voting machines which are paid for with taxes.

102. Do not ride trains. The railroad was built with government financial assistance.

“I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Payroll tax holiday — another idea that could come from the Grinch

In Uncategorized on December 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm

During the Reagan era, an administration staffer came up with the term “starve the beast” when discussing his perceived solution of cutting taxes to force a reduction in government spending.

Today, opponents of Social Security, who evidently consider the program a “beast,” are working overtime to cut its funding and thus force the pay-as-you-go program to reduce benefits — perhaps eventually leading to a far different program.

These opponents lost out on the Deficit Commission; they needed 14 commissioners to vote for the plan, which created huge cuts to Social Security benefits, in order to force a vote on the plan in Congress. They only got 11 votes.

So, their new tactic is to force Congress to pass a “payroll tax holiday,” cutting everyone’s Social Security tax payments by two percent.

It sounds so nice — a holiday! — yet the end result would be disastrous for the program.

Recent polls show that people are willing to pay more in taxes to maintain Social Security as it is (or even improve it — imagine that!). But once a two-year cut of two percent of payroll taxes is in place, it seems unlikely that the two percent will be reinstated. That would be a “tax increase,” just as getting rid of the “temporary” Bush tax cuts for the wealthy is a “tax increase.”

They know that no politician likes raising taxes and few have the guts to stand up to the demagoguery around that label.

So these Grinches may have their fondest “holiday” wishes come true: Social Security is starved for income as the baby-boomers retire; the program resorts to means testing, turning it into a welfare program instead of the social insurance program envisioned by Frances Perkins and FDR; benefits, now insufficient, become more and more meager; and some sort of privatization is put into place.

There’s no happy ending to that Grinch’s story.

Link to our statement on the Deficit Commission Report

In Legislation Today, Uncategorized on December 3, 2010 at 11:03 am

FPC on DeficitCommissionReport

Slide show responding to the deficit commission’s chairmen’s report

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2010 at 9:51 am

Dan Froomkin, senior Washington correspondent for the Huffington Post, posted this slide show: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/10/deficit-commission-proposal_n_781905.html#s179447. It’s worth a look.

Social Security Trustees Report — some background information

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 9:09 am

Months late, the Social Security Trustees have released their report on the current financial health of the Social Security programs. You can read the full report here: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TR/2010/tr10.pdf.

The National Academy of Social Insurance has released its annual brief on the Trustees’ Report: http://www.nasi.org/research/2010/social-security-finances-findings-2010-trustees-report.

Here is a highlight from that brief:

According to the 2010 Trustees report, the Social Security trust funds will have an annual surplus of $77 billion in 2010. Annual surpluses are projected to continue for the next 15 years (2010-24) and reserves are projected to grow to $4,200 billion by the end of 2024. Beginning in 2025, reserves will start to be drawn down to pay benefits. In 2037, the reserves are projected to be depleted. At that time, tax income coming into the trust funds will cover about 78 percent of benefits due, according to the 2010 report of the Social Security Trustees.

Some points to keep in mind:

The most important take-home point from the Trustees Report is that Social Security works just as intended, even in the worst of economic times. Social Security Trust Funds are doing precisely what they are supposed to do – assuring full payment to all eligible persons, on time and in full.

Social Security is the nation’s most conservatively financed and carefully monitored public program. That’s why the Trustees Reports have been issued every year, since 1941. The annual Trustees Report projects income and outgo further than private pension programs and further than the Social Security programs of nearly every other nation. It is intended to provide Congress an extremely long lead time to make adjustments that are needed from time to time.

This year’s Trustees Report is doing exactly what these reports are designed to do – providing an early warning system. It projects that in 26 years, if Congress takes no action before then, Social Security’s projected revenue will cover only around 78 percent of the cost of projected benefits and expenses.

Given that Social Security is projected to be able to pay benefits in full and on time for another quarter of a century (2037) and given how important Social Security is, having proven its worth once again during this severe economic recession, proposals to restore Social Security to long-range solvency should be debated in the sunshine through the normal legislative process, as it always has been done, not through a fast-tracked commission where no commission members or even staff have as their primary expertise, Social Security and retirement income, as opposed to the budget.

The real question we should be looking at is how we want Social Security to serve families and the nation in the future. Today Social Security is the most important source of retirement income protection as well as America’s most important disability protection and life insurance protection, especially for all our children.

Some facts related to Trustees Report:

  • Social Security is projected to pay all benefits in full and on time through 2037.
  • Social Security’s assets (a.k.a., reserves, surplus) will continue to grow from $2.5 trillion at the beginning of 2010 through 2024, when they will reach $4.2 trillion.
  • Because annual surpluses are expected to continue for the next 15 years, Social Security’s assets are projected to reach $4.2 trillion by the end of 2024.
  • With no action whatsoever, Social Security will have sufficient income and assets to pay all monthly benefits in full and on time through 2037.
  • Social Security is prohibited by law from contributing to the federal deficit.
  • By law, Social Security cannot borrow.
  • Social Security is prohibited from paying benefits if it has insufficient income and assets to cover the cost.
  • Social Security can pay all benefits in full and on time after 2037 with a relatively modest increase in dedicated revenues.
  • The 2010 trustees report projects that Social Security would be in complete actuarial balance for the full 75 year valuation period, if revenues were increased by the equivalent of increasing the deductions from workers’ wages by 0.92 percent, matched by employers.
  • Social Security could be restored to balance more progressively, such as with a tax on sales and purchases of stock, a tax on the assets of very large estates, or by raising the payroll tax cap.*
  • By increasing the revenue by a small amount more than is needed to pay scheduled benefits, those benefits could be increased either in a targeted way or across the board.
  • The fact that 2010 benefit payments are projected to exceed one part of Social Security’s dedicated revenue, that from so-called payroll taxes, ignores the fact that 2010 benefit payouts are less than all of Social Security’s income combined.
  • Social Security has three revenue sources: (1) mandatory contributions, deducted from the wages of workers, and matched by employers (commonly referred to as “payroll taxes); (2) interest earned on revenue not needed to pay benefits and expenses in prior years, and so invested in certificates of obligation and bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury, and (3) income taxes on the Social Security benefits of those with higher incomes.
  • These three sources of revenue, taken together, are projected to exceed the cost of all benefits and associated administrative costs in 2010 by a projected $76.7 billion, according to the 2010 Trustees Report.
  • There is nothing new or surprising about Social Security’s benefits exceeding the payroll tax contributions.
  • Benefits exceeded payroll tax contributions in 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983. The sky did not fall. Indeed, the trust funds acted as intended, providing a margin of safety so that benefits could be fully paid, even in very difficult economic times. (see Table 4.A3—Combined OASI and DI, 1957–2008 in the Social Security Administration’s Annual Statistical Supplement, 2009; http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2009/4a.pdf).
  • Since 1983, Congress has required all covered workers to have relatively large amounts withheld from wages, and invested in Treasury bonds whose interest could be used when needed. The recession has accelerated by a few years the date that some of the interest is needed.
  • In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, the trustees redeemed bonds in order to pay scheduled benefits.

[Thanks to SocialSecurity-Works.org for the facts and figures above.]

*Currently, workers only pay FICA tax on salary up to $106,800. Any money earned above that limit is not taxed.

America Speaks — Let the true message be heard!

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm

It is our American habit to arrive at what we think by talking things out together…. These discussion centers are the actual birth places of public opinion — they are where the American mind, harnessed to the American will, goes constructively and critically to work. –Frances Perkins, People at Work

I spent a surprisingly entertaining day yesterday at the AmericaSpeaks: Our Budget, Our Economy daylong national town meeting. More than 3,500 people gathered in a number of cities around the country; Augusta, Maine, was my location. As Alice Rivlin, a much honored participant, said, “Who would believe that thousands of people spent 6 1/2 hours on a summer Saturday talking about the deficit, and had fun doing it!”

One of the things that made it fun for me was the realization that the entire group was not going to be co-opted by ultra-conservative deficit hawks. In fact, it turns out that moderate-to-liberal-leaning folks are more willing to spend a Saturday in June talking about the U.S. budget with strangers. I know this because we were all outfitted with keypads upon which we answered poll questions, and the results were instantaneously beamed to all the town meeting sites. So we immediately learned that as a group we were slightly more male than female, slightly more affluent than average, very slightly less diverse than the general population, and somewhat older than average.

While the discussion was tightly channeled and there were serious deficiencies in the way some topics were presented (particularly health care and Social Security), I think that the results are of great interest, particularly the fact that 64 percent of the participants favored creating a carbon tax and 61 percent favored a securities transaction tax. Considering the way these taxes have either been discounted or little discussed in the mainstream media, that’s impressive.

Another nifty feature provided by AmericaSpeaks was a printed Preliminary Report we could pick up on our way out the door that contained all the polling results from the work we had just completed. So, I don’t have to remember exactly how all 3500+ of us felt about cuts to Medicare or new taxes; it’s all collected in the Preliminary Report in black and white.

That’s why I feel well equipped to point out the ways in which the publicity released by AmericaSpeaks about the polling results from the national town meeting is misleading.

AmericaSpeaks received much of its funding for the Our Budget, Our Economy national town meeting from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which also has pushed hard for deficit reduction in the form of cuts to social programs like Social Security. The press release sent out after the town meetings sounds as if the results were spun by someone sharing the perspective of the Peterson Foundation. (It’s also interesting to note that all the experts interviewed or taped for the video presentations came from the “deficit hawk” side of the table.)

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Reforms that were preferred by participants at the National Town Meeting included options that:
• Raise the limit on taxable earnings so it covers 90% of total earnings.
• Reduce spending on health care and non-defense discretionary spending by at least 5%.
• Raise tax rates on corporate income and those earning more than $1 million.
• Raise the age for receiving full Social Security benefits to 69.
• Reduce defense spending by 10% – 15%.
• Create a carbon and securities-transaction tax.

And here are my main arguments with that portrayal:

• Reduce spending on health care and non-defense discretionary spending by at least 5%. While the majority of those supporting reductions in Medicare and Medicaid spending voted to reduce that spending by 5 percent (instead of 10 or 15 percent), a much larger percentage — 38 — voted for “no change” in health care spending, no doubt due in part to the very poor way in which this question was posed. Although people around me and some who spoke on the live transmission from other sites believed that healthcare spending needed to be cut, they were not happy with the options provided in this exercise.

When it comes to non-defense discretionary spending, again the highest votes went to “no change” — 32 percent. I suppose they are adding up all the people who voted for 5, 10, and 15 percent cuts and saying that all of those people would have supported a cut of “at least 5%” but that seems disingenuous.


• Raise tax rates on corporate income and those earning more than $1 million.
If they use the standard above, conflating categories, then they should report that 66 percent would raise the personal tax rate for everyone in the top two brackets by at least 10%. In fact, the vote was 18 percent for a 10% increase and 48 percent for a 20% increase. That’s newsworthy — especially as this group skewed toward a higher average income. This group would raise taxes considerably on those earning more than $209,250, not just millionaires.
• Raise the age for receiving full Social Security benefits to 69. Of course, there’s no reason why Social Security should even be considered in this discussion, since it is a pay-as-you-go program by law and thus has no impact on the deficit. That said, once again, the press release fails to go by its earlier method of conflating categories. If you do follow that convention, then you can say that 67 percent were in favor of raising the payroll tax gradually to at least 13.4%. That’s worth pointing out.

Also, although mentioned in the first bullet on the list of findings, it was a huge majority (85 percent) that approved of raising the limit on taxable earnings to 90% of total earnings in America. At my table, the vote for raising the age of retirement lost steam as people thought about those jobs involving physical labor, the lack of jobs for 60+ workers, and the need to free up jobs for younger workers. Others reported the same thing at their tables. Perhaps with more time for discussion, this vote would have gone the other way. As it is, as one of the options for changing Social Security, with only 52 percent in favor it ranked behind raising the payroll tax (67 percent) and far behind expanding the limit on taxable earnings (85 percent). But you wouldn’t know that from the press release.

• Reduce defense spending by 10% – 15%. This is an understatement. 51 percent approved cutting the defense budget by 15%, certainly another newsworthy fact. Another 18 percent approved a cut of 10%, and 16 percent approved a 5% cut. Here’s the staggering number — only 15 percent voted for no change in defense spending. (Compare this to 32 percent who voted for no change in non-defense spending, 23 percent who voted for no change in Social Security spending, and 38 percent who voted for no change in healthcare spending.
• Create a carbon and securities-transaction tax. Again, this is true but understated. As I mentioned earlier, the approval for each of these new taxes was more than 60 percent.

Finally, I would quibble with this statement from the press release:

Sixty-one percent of participants said that in the short-term they believe the government should be doing more to strengthen the economy. Participants expressed more mixed views about the recent stimulus bill that failed to pass the Senate last week. Fifty-one percent of participants supported the legislation, while thirty-eight percent of participants said they were not supportive of it.

Why is 51 percent “mixed”? It’s a majority. Can we now also say that the attitude toward raising the full retirement age to 69 was also “mixed”? (52 percent voted for that.) And to break down further the polling on the failed stimulus bill, 32 percent said they were “supportive” and 19 percent said they were “somewhat supportive.” Twelve percent were “somewhat unsupportive” and 26 percent were “unsupportive.”

What’s so bad about a press release skewing the results just enough to shift the emphasis and bury the big stories? This description of yesterday’s results is laying down the track for the story that will be spun, as we were repeatedly told, to the president’s deficit commission (the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform), and to House and Senate leaders.

Here’s the real story: More than 3500 people in cities across the United States came together to sit at tables with strangers for six and a half hours to work on reducing the 2025 deficit, and this was their overwhelming answer to the problems we face: “We do not shrink from raising taxes on those most able to pay. This means those in the top two tax brackets. This means Wall Street. We do not shrink from cutting the military budget. And we do not shrink from taxing the use of fossil fuels.” What a challenge to Congress, which dares not do any of these things. May it give our representatives courage.

There’s no question that the thousands of people who came together across the country yesterday to wrestle with difficult questions of the budget and the economy did so with all good intentions. What remains to be seen are the intentions of the organizers.  Let the true message be heard!

[You can find the quoted press release here: http://usabudgetdiscussion.org/press/]

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky on the first day of the National Fiscal Commission

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 at 11:29 am

Click on the photo to watch the C-Span video.

The president’s deficit commission can’t speak for me

In Political world, Uncategorized on April 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

The 18 commission members have been named to the National Fiscal Commission. Fait accompli. But that doesn’t mean that those of us who feel inadequately represented can’t point out the problems with the current cast. As a woman, I feel particularly invisible to this commission.

President Obama had the prerogative to name six commission members. Two of his appointees are women, Alice Rivlin and Ann Fudge. Republican Congressional leadership named six members, all male. Democratic Congressional leadership named six members, only one of whom is a woman–Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky–appointed by House Speaker Pelosi.

Does it matter?  You bet it does. In purely political terms, since it takes 14 out of the 18 members to make a recommendation, there aren’t even enough women members to stop the rest of the group from making recommendations that hurt the economic interests of women.

It matters also when it comes to perspective. Women make up more than half of the population and they rely disproportionately on Social Security and Medicare. Fifty-seven percent of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older are women, and 69 percent of beneficiaries age 85 and older are women. Because we tend to have lower incomes with fewer resources and more chronic conditions than men, Medicare is a crucial source of our retirement security. More than half of all Medicare beneficiaries are women; among those 85 and older, 70 percent are women.

Yet, out of 18 commission members charged with looking at ways to cut the federal deficit with a focus on programs like Social Security and Medicare, only three are women. That’s a measly 17 percent speaking for more than 50 percent of the American population.

It took a strong woman, Frances Perkins, President Roosevelt’s secretary of labor, to win the fight for social insurance programs like Social Security back in the 1930s. She took on the job of secretary of labor because, she said, “The door might not be opened to a woman again for a long, long time, and I had a kind of duty to other women to walk in and sit down on the chair that was offered, and so establish the right of others long hence and far distant in geography to sit in the high seats.”

I know there are some good men among the commission members who will watch out for the economic interests of women. But I thought that by 2010 we would be beyond the days of looking for good men to take care of us. Paternalism is passé. It’s time to let us speak for ourselves, to let more of us sit in the high seats.

Alert from Generations United — ask for transparency

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Note: Generations United (GU) is the national membership organization focused solely on improving the lives of children, youth, and older people through intergenerational strategies, programs, and public policies.

Urge Your Members of Congress to Support Transparency in Fiscal Commission

Action:
Representative Conyers (MI) is circulating a letter asking his fellow members of Congress to co-sign a letter to members of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility to ensure that the commission’s work is open and transparent. You can read both the Dear Colleague Letter and the proposed letter to commission on GU’s website. Please call your member of Congress and ask him or her to sign on to Rep. Conyers letter. You can call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to connect with your representative.

Background:
The fiscal commission is examining ways to reduce the short-term deficit and long-term federal debt. The commission could propose cuts in important programs like Social Security and Medicaid that serve some of the most vulnerable young people in this country. Social Security, specifically targeted by Senators Conrad and Gregg, keeps 1.3 million children from falling into poverty. Additionally, six and half million children in the United States receive assistance from Social Security’s survivors benefits program. These are vulnerable children who have lost a parent and who might otherwise be at risk of slipping into poverty. For here for more information on Social Security and its benefits for children, youth, and families, visit http://www.gu.org/socialsecurity.asp.

Pressure on Pelosi regarding her commission picks

In Uncategorized on March 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm

On Monday we sent out an email to friends of the Frances Perkins Center asking people to write to Speaker Pelosi and urge her to choose three staunch supporters of Social Security for the president’s fiscal [deficit] commission. You can read why here.

There’s some news on that front–evidently the Blue Dogs are trying to pressure her to give them a seat on the commission. In return for what? A yes vote on the healthcare bill, perhaps?

So, if you were thinking of writing to Speaker Pelosi about her choices, please do it today. There isn’t a minute to waste!

CQ POLITICS NEWS
March 10, 2010 – 1:33 p.m.

Blue Dogs Push for Seat on Fiscal Commission

Leaders of the fiscally conservative House Democratic Blue Dog Coalition have asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to appoint at least one member of their group to the president’s fiscal commission.

“As Blue Dogs, we strongly supported this commission as a necessary mechanism to tackle the fiscal challenges we face,” leaders of the 54-member group said in a letter to Pelosi. “We believe a member of the Blue Dog Coalition would bring the invaluable contributions and a critical perspective to the recommendations sent to Congress before the end of the year.”

The coalition is made up of centrist Democrats who have made deficit reduction and balanced budgets their organizing principle. Many represent districts that are prime targets for Republicans this fall, and they are bracing for GOP attacks on their party.

Pelosi has so far kept close counsel on whom she will select for the panel. There is a lot of interest among the rank-and-file in serving on the panel, aides said.

Read the entire article here.