Sen. Mitch McConnell has appointed Sens. Jon Kyl, Pat Toomey and Rob Portman to the debt supercommittee. House Speaker John Boehner has appointed Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX), and Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both of Michigan.
The choices of Toomey, Portman and Hensarling make sense, as all three are vocal critics of excess federal spending. Hailing from the Club for Growth, Toomey can be expected to be a voice for economic progress. Portman served in two cabinet position during the Bush 43 administration, including chief of the Office of Management and Budget. Few in Washington can be considered to be Portman’s peers when it comes to budgetary matters.
But where are strong voices like Sen. Jim DeMint or Rep. Paul Ryan? Are they too radioactive? A true spending hawk like Rand Paul may have done a lot to offset the Democrats’ choice of Sen. Patty Murray.
Don’t get me wrong here — we could have done a lot worse. If either of Maine’s senators or Sen. Brown of MA would have been appointed, the supercommittee would have tilted to the left and entitlements would have been left untouched. But the choice sof Kyl in the Senate and Camp and Upton in the House strike me as disconcerting. Upton co-sponsored, and is now opposed to, the ridiculous ban on incandescent light bulbs. Camp just doesn’t have a national name or reputation yet.
Update: Ryan is out by his own request, and Ed Morrissey thinks that overall the picks are strong. Toomey and Portman are the strongest and Hensarling is right there with them — three very good picks. But it’s fair to question both Kyl’s and Upton’s strength and instincts. They represent two dealmakers that the Democrats might co-opt. And as head of House Energy, I’d rather have Upton devoted full time to stopping the EPA’s power grabs. That agency needs to be defanged if we’re ever to get the economy going again.