“A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours.”—Milton Berle
Lost in the talk about the exploding number of government czars--nearly three dozen in all--are the soaring number of government task forces, committees and commissions, government bodies that conduct meetings upon meetings overseen by officials who started talking when Jimmy Carter was still in the White House.
It's the ‘committee' approach to fixing problems, a participatory democracy that has grown like kudzu.
“The length of a meeting rises with the square number of people present.”—Eileen Shanahan
These government committees will likely geometrically grow in direct proportion to the rising number of government czars appointed by the White House, proof that government bureaucracies exist to perpetuate themselves. And they will grow, too, if health reform is passed, given that the bills under discussion in Congress would create by some estimates more than two dozen new panels and commissions.
Proof too, that change you can believe in is in reality the devilish art of not enacting too much change too fast, only when it comes to changing taxes, which really involves reconciling the government's gross habits with the net income of the American people.
“A committee is an animal with four back legs.”—John Le Carre
Below is just a sample of the thumb-twiddling task forces and commissions clocking hours on the taxpayers' dime.
Let's start with the White House:
White House Office of Health Reform
White House Task Force on Tax Reform
White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families
White House Task Force on the Auto Industry
White House Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee
“A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.”—Sir Barnett Cocks
Want more? How about government bodies that talk about staffing on government bodies?
Chief Acquisition Officers Council
Chief Human Capital Officers Council
Chief Information Officers Council
“Twelve experts gathered in one room equal one big idiot.”—Carl Jung
Then there are the mystery groups that no one is really sure what they do:
American Battle Monuments Commission
Appalachian Regional Commission
Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (proposed in health care reform legislation)
Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements
Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service
“Committee—a group of the unfit, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary.”—Stewart Harrol
Has Your Head Exploded Yet? How about the unlimited commissions on Social Security reform. Meanwhile, as the baby boomers are already starting to retire, true reform of the bankrupt Social Security system is so far on the government's backburner, it's not even on the stove:
Committee on Economic Security (CES): Commissioned by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, its research formed the basis of the legislative proposal the President sent to Congress in January 1935. The e CES provided the blueprint, the intellectual and academic case, for what would become the Social Security Act.
1938 Advisory Council on Social Security: Led to the 1939 amendments to the Social Security program.
1948-‘49 Advisory Council on Social Security: Led to the 1950 amendments to the Social Security program.
1957-‘59 Advisory Council on Social Security: This Council studied the financing of the program and focused its entire report on issues related to financing.
1965 Advisory Council on Social Security: This group recommended, among other important changes, the adoption of the Medicare program--which became a reality later that same year.
1977 National Commission on Social Security: This commission was created by Congress in December 1977 and was instructed to undertake a "fundamental, long-term, comprehensive consideration for change in the entire Social Security system." The nine-member bipartisan Commission issued its final report in March 1981.
National Commission on Social Security Reform (informally known as the Greenspan Commission after its Chairman, 1981): Appointed by the Congress and the President in 1981 to study and make recommendations regarding the short-term financing crisis that Social Security faced at that time. This bipartisan Commission's report, issued in January 1983, became the basis for the 1983 Social Security Amendments which resolved the short-term financing problem and made many other significant changes in Social Security law.
1990 Panel of Experts on Social Security Modernization: In 1990, Social Security commissioned a group of outside experts, headed by Arthur Flemming, to study the Social Security program and recommend programmatic modernization. Whatever that means.
1994-‘96 Advisory Council on Social Security
Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform (the Kerrey-Danforth Commission, 1994): The Commission issued a report on the effort to design a fairly complete set of reforms to various federal entitlement programs, including, but not limited to, Social Security and Medicare.
President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security (2001): A commission appointed by President George W. Bush in May 2001 to recommend to the President ways to modernize and reform the Social Security system.
“You'll find in no park or city a monument to a committee.” – Victoria Pasternak