Our friends, Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson, have written a wonderfully clear description of the presidential Fiscal Commission, its goals and make-up.

President Obama and the leadership in Congress have delegated enormous, unaccountable authority to 18 unrepresentative, inordinately wealthy individuals. The 18 individuals are meeting regularly, in secret, behind closed doors, until safely beyond this year?s mid-term election. If they reach agreement, their proposal will be voted on in December by a lame duck Congress, without the benefit of open hearings and deliberations in the pertinent committees and without the opportunity for open debate and amendment on the floors of the House and Senate. Despite the speed and lack of accountability, the legislation will affect, in substantial ways, every man, woman, and child in this nation.

Their piece in Nieman Watchdog is geared toward the press to encourage some serious question-asking that — so far–isnot being done. Questions such as:

Q. Have the members of the Commission made up their minds, at least with respect to the broad outlines, making the whole exercise simply an effort by elected officials to escape political accountability?Q. Why is the Commission apparently working so closely with billionaire Peter G. Peterson, who served in the Nixon administration and who has a clear ideological agenda?Q. Mr. Peterson has been on a decades-long crusade against Social Security. The day after the first meeting of the commission, which focused heavily on the need to cut Social Security, the co-chairs and two other members of the commission participated in a Peterson event that reinforced the same message. A Peterson-funded foundation is supplying commission staff. And Peterson?s foundation is funding America Speaks to develop a series of high-profile town halls across the country to host ?a national discussion to find common ground on tough choices about our federal budget.? (For more background about Mr. Peterson, see William Greider in the Nation on Looting Social Security — Part 2.)

This is our recommended must-read (and forward) of the week.