Right-wing media figures have asserted that SEIU president Andy Stern's appointment to President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission is a "mockery," a "joke," and a "cover to raise taxes and soak the rich." However, Stern is the only labor representative on the panel; Obama also appointed two business leaders and members of both parties, including former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), who will serve as co-chair of the commission.
Right-wing media attack Stern's appointment to deficit commission
Fox & Friends asks if Stern appointment is "just a cover to raise taxes and soak the rich." On the March 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy asked if Stern's appointment was "just a cover to raise taxes and soak the rich." After co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Fox Business contributor Stuart Varney if the deficit commission was "a trap," Varney replied, "The answer to your question is yes," calling Stern a "very big spender" and a "class warrior." Varney also asserted that Stern's appointment means "[t]hey're not going to look at cutting spending. They're not going to look at reigning in entitlement programs."
Malkin: "Biggest sign that White House deficit panel is a joke: O wants to appoint Andy Stern." On February 22, Michelle Malkin called Stern's appointment to the panel the "[b]iggest sign that [the] White House deficit panel is a joke." Malkin claimed that Stern's appointment made the panel "not just a dog-and-pony show. It's a dog-pony-and-thug show," and called Stern a "corruptocrat."
Hot Air: Stern "represents the problem ... not the solution." In a February 26 blog post, Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey said Stern represents "the problem that Congress faces in making tough budget decisions -- not the solution," claiming Stern "has a vested interest in keeping federal employees on the job, as his union mainly represents public-sector workers." Morrissey added, "We can expect that this panel will recommend tax hikes in order to maintain that cash flow and to subsidize Democratic power."
American Thinker: "Stern's appointment to the deficit commission a mockery." On February 28, Greg Halvorson of American Thinker called Stern's appointment to the commission "a mockery." Halvorson accused unions of "destroy[ing] fiscal prudence" and "draining budgets," and claimed that "placing Stern on the deficit commission to influence budgetary matters has the dual affect of undermining both the commission and the president."
Daily Caller post: "Administration keeping cozy with union bosses." In a March 1 Daily Caller post, Ivan Osorio, editorial director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wrote that Stern's appointment was "disappointing" but "not surprising," calling the appointment a "clear conflict of interest" because "government employee unions constitute a permanent special interest lobby favoring the growth of government, one that is motivated, organized and well-funded." Osorio further stated that Stern is likely to call "for higher taxes to fund more 'public services' for SEIU to unionize."
But Obama's appointees reflect positions from both parties, business, and labor
Obama named Republican as co-chair of commission. The White House stated in a February 18 press release that "former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson will serve as the Commission's co-chairs." The press release further noted that "Alan Simpson served as a U.S. Senator from Wyoming from 1979 to 1997. From 1985 to 1995, he was the Republican whip in the Senate, and he also chaired the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Social Security."
Obama appointed two members with business backgrounds. The Wall Street Journal called Obama's four non-chairman appointments "four names of widely different backgrounds." In addition to Simpson and Bowles, the commission includes two members with business backgrounds -- Republican and Honeywell CEO David Cote, and Ann Fudge, former CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands and executive at General Mills and Kraft -- Stern, the one representative from labor, and Alice Rivlin, who the Journal called "the widely respected founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and one of the nation's most authoritative voices on the federal debt."
Washington Post: Any action on the panel "would depend on the support of at least two Republicans." According to The Washington Post, based on the panel's rules, "Fourteen commission members would have to agree on any deficit-reduction plan, a prospect that skeptics called a recipe for gridlock because action would depend on the support of at least two Republicans for a plan that is sure to include tax increases."
The Hill: "Obama leans toward centrists on new deficit-reduction panel." The Hill described Obama's appointments as a "roster of centrists who helped reduce deficits during the 1990s." The article called the appointments an "effort to stock the panel with centrists" that appeared to be "aimed at paving the way for compromises between current Democratic and Republican lawmakers."
Republican leaders will appoint six members to the commission. According to the White House, in addition to the six members chosen by Obama, "12 members will be appointed by Senate/House leaders (3 each by the Republican and Democratic leaders of both chambers). All must be sitting members of Congress."