Brutal: Tom Coburn quits the Gang of Six

posted at 6:02 pm on May 17, 2011 by Allahpundit

Remember what Alan Simpson said after Obama’s disastrous, demagogic, compromise-destroying attack on Paul Ryan a few weeks ago? He knew he’d just seen any chance of a deal between the Republican and Democratic leaderships go up in smoke. Quote:

“Just pray for the Gang of Six,” he said. “You guys your age, keep praying.”

What happens if the Gang of Six fails? Mr. Simpson was asked.

“Guys like you will be picking grit with the chickens when you are 65,” he replied.

Start boning up on grit-picking, my friends:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) announced Tuesday that he would pull out of the talks with two other Republican and three Democratic colleagues…

“We can’t bridge the gulf of where we need to go on mandatory spending,” Corburn said Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t see that there’s going to be any fruition in continuing them at this time.”

Coburn has insisted for weeks that Social Security reform, including cutting benefits, would have to be part of any Gang of Six deal. But Democrats such as Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said they wanted to deal with Social Security reform separately, not as part of a broad deficit-reduction package…

“We’re at an impasse,” Coburn said. “There’s no reason to sit and talk about the same things over and over and not get any movement.

He allowed that there’s a slim chance talks could pick up again, but if the sticking point is whether or not to include Social Security reform in their grand bargain on the deficit, then realistically they’re not going to find common ground. Saxby Chambliss and Mike Crapo are still part of the “Gang” on the GOP side, but neither one of them has the sort of conservative cred that’ll be needed to sell a compromise in the unlikely event that they reach one. (Chambliss, in fact, is already under suspicion on the right for appearing a bit too eager to include tax hikes in the deal.) Coburn, necessarily, was going to have to be the point man on that, and now he’s gone. Maybe it’s a stunt designed to shake up the negotiations and force an agreement that’ll lure him back, but if it doesn’t work, then the only budget game in town right now is the comically pathetic Biden group, whose own members aren’t taking it seriously. Said Jim DeMint, who’s not a member but has it pegged, “It will be historic, but it will be meaningless.” Exactly. Which leaves us … where on entitlement reform?

I guess it’s going to take a fiscal collapse after all.


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