Waiting for the Gang of Six

posted at 12:01 pm on May 3, 2011 by Karl

While public attention is almost entirely focused on the death of Osama bin Laden, the so-called “Gang of Six” may be planning to launch their budget under the radar — because that may be the only way it moves forward.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) told Fox News Sunday that the Gang would become irelevant in the deficit reduction discussion unless it released a plan soon. The Hill goes even further:

Even if the Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of senators, can agree on how to cut the federal deficit, their plan will land with a deathly thud on Capitol Hill unless lawmakers in both parties quickly support it.

***

It isn’t clear whether their plan — details remain under wraps — will have a better chance than others of becoming the basis for a grand deal capable of garnering the necessary 60 votes. That would require lawmakers to shrug off opposition from the ideological wings of both parties and overcome other obstacles.

Shrugging off the opposition turns out to be easier imagined than done in a democratic republic:

Skipping a Budget Committee markup and moving the bipartisan Gang of Six’s deficit-cutting proposal directly to the Senate floor would be a risky strategy, budget experts say.

Doing so would prevent liberal and conservative critics from getting a crack at the plan in committee, but could poison the well and eliminate the spirit of bipartisanship that is crucial if the bipartisan group is to release a plan with any hope of becoming law.

The spectre of bypassing the normal process was raised by the Budget Committee’s ranking mamber, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who is tired of “self-appointed groups” trying to circumvent the normal legislative process. Conrad’s spokesman says he had heard nothing to suggest the chairman was considering skipping the committee, but that doesn’t mean much.

Moreover, Conrad need not skip the Budget Committee if he wants to try to steamroll the process. As committee Republicans noted in a recent letter to Conrad, “[i]n recent years, budgets have been presented, marked up and passed out of committee in less than 48 hours–with hardly any time for the public or committee members to read, much less analyze, the resolutions’ content.” The GOP members of the committee have asked that whatever Conrad proposes as his budget markup be posted online at least three days before any committee consideration, but Conrad has yet to agree.

Furthermore, Conrad — historically viewed by Republicans as perhaps the most sensible and serious Democrat when it comes to deficit reduction — has been missing in action from the public debate over the debt this year, with the notable exception of some unusually partisan comments about the House budget resolution.

Conrad ought to recognize that trying to fast-track a Gang-based budget plan through his committee is a bad idea. Past budgets may have been rushed, but the post-TARP, post-ObamaCare political environment has put a distinct stink on backroom deals foisted on the public under claims of a crisis. Conrad, as a retiring Senator, is undoubtedly considering his legacy. If he continues on the partisan path he seems to be taking, he will be trading a legacy for that stink.


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Admiral Akbar!

Lanceman on May 3, 2011 at 12:04 PM

What’s most saddening is the composition of the gang. It would be one thing if it was Brown, Collins and Snowe. But it’s Coburn and Crapo. Both have 100 or close to 100 ACU ratings. And even they are caving to Obama/Reid.

When the most conservative senators introduce plans to raise taxes with no spending cuts, you gotta wonder if there is any real hope left.

angryed on May 3, 2011 at 12:06 PM

….crickets…….

colonelkurtz on May 3, 2011 at 12:07 PM

a show pony….anyone with an ounce of common sense realizes this is just a way of making at-risk liberals look good…why help them???

colonelkurtz on May 3, 2011 at 12:10 PM

They can have all the show ponies they want – however,
the citizens of this country want the spending stopped.
End of story. We do not want compromise; which, of course,
is the “art of the deal”, the way congress has been doing
business it seems like forever. Which is why they cannot
accomplish much.

Amjean on May 3, 2011 at 12:20 PM

The Senate might have been able to pull this kind of … stuff … when they held both houses, but if they try it now they’re likely to find the House Republicans have put up a wall in front of their steamroller.

Socratease on May 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Wait… What?

We have a budget problem…?

… Who cares, Obama put a cap in Osama, sucka!

/

Seven Percent Solution on May 3, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Another bipartisan Gang?

Is this Gang even big enough to represent a swinging majority of the Senate? I thought that was the whole point.

HitNRun on May 3, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Since when is it Constitutional for budgets to originate in the Senate? Not that any politician, president or SC judge has cared about the Constitution since the 1900′s … but anyway.

j_galt on May 3, 2011 at 12:38 PM

The American people need to do some about the gang problem in DC.

BuckeyeSam on May 3, 2011 at 12:40 PM

..speaking of “deathly thud”, here is a classic example of how quickly Obama’s take-down-decision will wilt like a flower in the noonday sun when folks get back to the reality of the three G’s: gas, groceries, and GDP.

The War Planner on May 3, 2011 at 12:40 PM

It’s a TARP?

Made me LOL.

ElectricPhase on May 3, 2011 at 12:42 PM

The American people need to do some about the gang problem in DC.

BuckeyeSam on May 3, 2011 at 12:40 PM

:)

Fallon on May 3, 2011 at 12:53 PM

This thread would have been 100 comments two days ago…

BadgerHawk on May 3, 2011 at 1:17 PM

There won’t be a budget for the next year. Nothing that is proposed will stand a chance of being passed or be able to withstand a veto from our dear leader. They’ll just keep dickering over CRs.

Kissmygrits on May 3, 2011 at 1:21 PM

Between the Gang of 14 and the Gang of Six….screw them all. When is the Gang of Voters going to be heard? How many of these RINOs do we have to keep voting out until the message gets through?????

search4truth on May 3, 2011 at 1:23 PM

That any conservative would even think of getting on board with this is disheartening and disgusting. I can’t believe it’s not being headed by the penultimate gang leader, ole Big Mac himself – aka: TAFKAM, POS, MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, et al.

JimP on May 3, 2011 at 2:19 PM

They can have all the show ponies they want – however,
the citizenstaxPAYERS of this country want the spending stopped.
End of story. We do not want compromise; which, of course,
is the “art of the deal”, the way congress has been doing
business it seems like forever. Which is why they cannot
accomplish much.

Amjean on May 3, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Problem is that 47% WANT THE HANDOUTS TO CONTINUE.

The Dems have created a ‘dam#ed if you do, dam#ed if you don’t’ scenario. If they cut, their base will stop voting for them, if they don’t cut, then we run out of money and their base will riot.

I say “Let them eat cake.”

orbitalair on May 3, 2011 at 2:56 PM

The American people need to do some about the gang problem in DC.

BuckeyeSam on May 3, 2011 at 12:40 PM

ees not a gang, ees a club

mdenis39 on May 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

When the most conservative senators introduce plans to raise taxes with no spending cuts, you gotta wonder if there is any real hope left.

angryed on May 3, 2011 at 12:06 PM

I want to hear from them the reasoning. I seriously doubt it doesn’t have spending cuts. Come on, you don’t believe that.

Last I heard, and it was before the Osama stuff… they were basing it on the Simpson/Bowles recomendations.

Those were similar to Ryan’s plan except that instead of getting savings from medicare they raised some taxes.

And it seems if they were really compromising there will be some of both.

If they ram this through they are making a terrible mistake.

I think most of us are willing to see what and why and how. They need to do the opposite of raming it through and they need to publically defend their positions!

I can be convinced if they explain to me why this is the best option and I believe them.

petunia on May 3, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Where is the “Maverick” on this one. It ain’t moderate without the Mav. : ))

Angry Dumbo on May 3, 2011 at 6:06 PM