Weigel

The Fate of a Nation Rests With Xavier Becerra

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 06: House Budget Committee ranking member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Assistant Leader Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) hold a news conference at the U.S. Captiol September 6, 2011 in Washington, DC. Van Hollen, Becerra and Clyburn have been tapped by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to be members of the Joint Fedreal Deficit Committee, or ‘deficit supercommittee.’ (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trish Turner has a bunch of newsy updates on the work of the supercommittee. I’ll save you time: This is the Heather-est update.

Panel members tell Fox that everyone is working hard, though with little progress toward a deal - everyone that is, except Reps. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., and Jim Clyburn, D-SC, who members, both Republican and Democrat, say have largely stepped back from the committee’s work. 

What has Becerra been doing? Well, as soon as his participation was announced, he sent out a fundraising note reminding donors – hint, hint! – of the appointment. And after that he raised $15,000 from PACs. James Clyburn has been an even more aggressive fundraiser. If you were a cynic, you might marvel at the rumor that two of Nancy Pelosi’s three supercom paladins aren’t doing much except 1) representating progressives and 2) being impressive non-white guys. (Most supercommittee members are white guys, but that’s at least partially a function of the fact that each party had to produce three members from an upper house. The House Democratic caucus is the bastion of racial diversity on the Hill.)

What sort of wisdom are the fellow super-com-ers missing? We turn to an interview with Al Hunt.

BECERRA: We could make it big.

HUNT: Three, four?

BECERRA: Big and bold. We just have to make sure it’s balanced.

HUNT: Give me a number - give me a number you think you could achieve conceivably, if you get Republicans -

BECERRA: There’s no reason why we couldn’t go to four total.

HUNT: Well, OK. You voted against Bowles-Simpson-

BECERRA: Right.

HUNT: - last year because you said it wasn’t balanced enough.

BECERRA: Balanced.

HUNT: But that’s going to be the contours of any final deal. And in order to get a deal, will you be able to support something close to Simpson-Bowles now?

BECERRA: Yes.

HUNT: You will?

BECERRA: Yes.

HUNT: Why - why the change?

BECERRA: Because if it’s got more balance to it, that helps get me get there.

Perhaps his colleagues are being unfair. There’s really nothing for a progressive like Becerra to do except flack for the Democrats’ dealmakers – largely John Kerry – and decide to cast a “no” vote or “yes” vote depending on whether or not the compromise needs him.