America needs a 'supercommittee' of governors

A fine mess now, Ollie. It was a mistake from the first to allow S&P, Moody’s and the others an unelected overview and a voice in the life of sovereign American states. Now, like those tragically broken school systems in Atlanta and Pennsylvania, the ones with so many erasures on tests that the odds are 3 trillion to one that they are authentic, this Congress with the lowest rating in American history calls for a “supercommittee” of its own members to repair itself.

We have just recently had a supercommittee called the Simpson/Bowles Commission. To the surprise of some, it brought quite a dignified, fair and sensible beginning. Congress ignored it and so did the president. Sen. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia did not get the credit deserved in the debt-ceiling debate, although his opinion and that of the Gang of Six incorporated Simpson/Bowles conclusions. And as one commentator said, there is already a supercommittee to discuss these issues ... it is called the Congress.

Certainly no supercommittee will go beyond the modest recommendations of Simpson/Bowles. And any new committee will only express the collective will of that same Congress.

Recently, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) had a good idea. The new governor gave a report card to the State Legislature. It might be considered one of the most dysfunctional in the nation and no doubt needed reform. But they kicked at the idea of the governor overlooking them. No doubt they would prefer to have their own supercommittee like Washington wants.

Let's have a supercommittee, but, as Haley asks to overlook the legislation in South Carolina, let’s have a supercommittee of governors to overlook Congress. It has been suggested in this column before to create a supercommittee of governors and former governors; a council of 12 to advise and inform as a Board of Trustees does a college. Warner, former governor of Virginia, should apply, and Haley too. And Jim Hunt of North Carolina. And Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sarah Palin of Alaska and Jesse Ventura of Minnesota and Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Now would be the time, as we are quickly coming to the end of things. Almost overnight the home of the brave has become the land of frightened thoughts. The Chinese are saying no more plastic. They’re going to pull the credit card.

Before he died, the great ambassador George Kennan recommended such a group. He called it a Council of Elders. America was never intended to be a world without walls; a world of wandering tribes represented by lobbyists here and abroad with greater power than our current batch of shop-till-you-drop senators. It was intended to be a nation of places with regional representation. And in its earliest awakening, the Senate was intended to be such a watchdog. Particularly since the passing of the 17th Amendment in 1913, it has lost that function.