Gang of Six returns in debt-ceiling showdown

posted at 1:30 pm on July 14, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

When last we saw the so-called “Gang of Six” in the Senate, one of the gang members had ridden for the hills while the rest of them kept their super-secret budget plans, er, super-secret.  Almost two months later, with negotiations on debt and deficits between party leaders going nowhere except perhaps Camp David (or perhaps not even there), the gang’s almost all here again to provide another entertaining sideshow:

Talks among the remaining members of the Senate’s Gang of Six have gained new momentum in recent days as negotiations between President Obama and congressional leaders have faltered.

The five active members of the gang met for two and a half hours in the office of Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) Wednesday evening to eat dinner and make a penultimate push to a deal. …

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), one of the members of the group, said he and his colleagues made a lot of progress Wednesday. Several members also met earlier in the day.

“We’ve worked tonight, made a lot of progress,” he said Wednesday. “We got people reducing things to writing tonight, and tomorrow and we’ll see when we get back together tomorrow if people want to go forward.”

Progress, eh?  Just how much progress has Conrad himself made in producing an actual budget of any kind?  Like Barack Obama’s proposals, Conrad’s budget is a lot of talk but no documentation.  It’s been more than 800 days since Conrad has done the work normally expected of a Budget Committee chair, which is, y’know, a budget.

Credibility doesn’t exactly run high here.  However, with the President modeling the mature behavior he demands by, er, stamping feet, shoving chairs, and stomping out of the room, Conrad is starting to look better all the time.  In fact, he’s looking so much better than the embarrassment at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that Tom Coburn might agree to get the gang entirely back together:

The sixth member, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who had taken a hiatus from the group, says he is thinking about returning, and has given the group a new round of deficit-reduction proposals to consider.

All snark aside, if this group actually manages to put together a bipartisan deal on debt and deficit reduction, it will be difficult for either party to resist it.  This standoff has gotten so heated that practically anything that demonstrates a deal is possible will be immediately embraced by the media, and a good portion of the public that has grown disgusted with the spectacle of the last few days, too.  Coburn’s re-entry now is good news in that regard, although Coburn did warn when he quit the Gang that Republicans would have to accept more tax revenue as a trade-off for structural changes in the federal budget.

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Hey GOP hold out until after Zero’s Big birthday bash. This guy is insane. No wonder he want to raise the debt ceiling this week. So when he party’s hearty for his 50th he doesn’t look like a hypocrite. @$$hole he is.

Brat4life on July 14, 2011 at 1:32 PM

I still don’t see how the Gang of Six would manage to accomplish anything that could pass the House, considering the slim, if any, reports on collaboration with the House.

KingGold on July 14, 2011 at 1:34 PM

I say call in Obama during his lavish, over-priced birthday party and demand to know why that’s more important to him than getting this done.

Sauce for the goose.

Good Lt on July 14, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Why are they not impeached, the goons on the left?

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2011 at 1:37 PM

although Coburn did warn when he quit the Gang that Republicans would have to accept more tax revenue as a trade-off for structural changes in the federal budget.

And how will that make it different from Obama’s insistence on tax revenues?

Sorry, Ed, but no deal with “tax revenues” is going through the House and if the GOP leaders insist on pushing through such a deal, then they can kiss goodbye their current majority in the House, and dreams of capturing the Senate and the White House.

It will be clean-up time: conservatives/Tea Party will be more focused in cleaning up house in 2012 than taking out any Dems for McConnell and his ilk to enjoy power they do NOT deserve.

TheRightMan on July 14, 2011 at 1:38 PM

It’s been more than 800 days since Conrad has done the work normally expected of a Budget Committee chair, which is, y’know, a budget.

do your job bub!

cmsinaz on July 14, 2011 at 1:38 PM

I thought we already had a bi-partisan plan with the Deficit Commission? The gang of 6 failed before, they will fail again. Coburn actually did put something forth with Lieberman and was rebuffed.

Notice how this whole thing turned into a Circus once Senators (McConnell then others) started butting in. We may not have been getting anywhere when it was just House members VS Obama, but at least we knew it was primarily about tax hikes VS spending cuts. Now I’m completely lost as to what is going on.

Daemonocracy on July 14, 2011 at 1:39 PM

if this group actually manages to put together a bipartisan deal on debt and deficit reduction, it will be difficult for either party to resist it

dear leader would take the credit somehow

cmsinaz on July 14, 2011 at 1:39 PM

What’s the point? The American people have made it pretty clear that we don’t want a deal – we want spending cut, and cut immediately. The best way to do that is no debt ceiling hike.

Vashta.Nerada on July 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM

The Budget Act was designed to force all competing plans to be disclosed publicly and evaluated according to the same baselines and criteria. It is too late to meet the Act’s deadlines, but our leaders could still comply with its spirit.

If the president would put his plan into budgetary language, as the House already has done, and make it available to the CBO, the public could readily see who is being serious in the negotiations. We would know whether we have been offered a bracing helping of peas, or a misleading mess of pottage. As it is, the president has put a covered dish on the table and, thanks to noncompliance with the Budget Act, we do not know what it contains.

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM

I don’t think people would be against tax revenue but make it an outlier and let there be economic growth goals met before they kick in.

Cindy Munford on July 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM

bho is just chapped all the presidenten working with the debt problem is cutting into his and mo numerous trips and vacations all over the US! The golf is suffering also demanding the r’s come to deal with this. As for the bd bash, how many American’s have the money to have a bash for their bd?
L

letget on July 14, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Drudge is reporting that Dayton in Minnesota is about to cave in to the demands of the Republican legislature.

Hope the Congress is just as patient – and willing to wait for O’Bambi to do the same!

honsy on July 14, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Obama,with his Camp David ploy, thinks he’s Sun Tzu, the child.

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2011 at 1:43 PM

OT: Obama hits Chicago for 50th birthday fund-raisers at the Aragon

President Obama returns to Chicago on Aug. 3 to mark his 50th birthday with fund-raisers at the Aragon Ballroom, with tickets ranging from $50 a person to $35,800 per couple, which includes VIP seating at a “Birthday Concert” where celebs will be performing and a dinner with the president.

Wonder why Obama is bluffing with his SS checks threat?

Just imagine Obama having his lavish birthday bash the day after their so-called “default” deadline (Aug. 2), while Grandma goes hungry. If that doesn’t end his Presidency then nothing will!

GOP, hold strong! Obama will fold and accept everything you put on the table before Aug 2. The House should go ahead and pass their proposal laden with painful cuts.

TheRightMan on July 14, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Forgot to add the link:

OT: Obama hits Chicago for 50th birthday fund-raisers at the Aragon

TheRightMan on July 14, 2011 at 1:45 PM

It occurs to me that any tax changes, either in rates or in deductions, will only bring in more revenue now if people change there withholding amount. Otherwise, it won’t be showing up until tax time.

Count to 10 on July 14, 2011 at 1:45 PM

GOP, hold strong! Obama will fold and accept everything you put on the table before Aug 2. The House should go ahead and pass their proposal laden with painful cuts.

TheRightMan on July 14, 2011 at 1:44 PM

2nd that

cmsinaz on July 14, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Coburn did warn when he quit the Gang that Republicans would have to accept more tax revenue as a trade-off for structural changes in the federal budget.

I would certainly welcome tax revenue from the welfare class. I say this because I grew up on the welfare.

/Man, how they snooker. You racists.

Key West Reader on July 14, 2011 at 1:47 PM

It looks like we’ll have to do something similar to a papal conclave. From Wikipedia:

In earlier years, papal elections sometimes suffered prolonged deadlocks. To resolve them, authorities often resorted to the forced seclusion of the cardinal electors. The method was adopted in 1216 by the city of Perugia and in 1241 by the city of Rome. After the death of Clement IV in 1268, the city of Viterbo also had to resort to seclusion of the cardinals in the episcopal palace. When the cardinals still failed to elect a pope, the city refused to send in any materials except bread and water. When even this failed to produce a result, the townspeople removed the roof. The cardinals then elected Gregory X, ending an interregnum of almost three years. Six of the sixteen cardinals present were delegated by the remaining ten to make the choice for all, and they wrote down their choices until all six agreed. The remaining ten accepted the one chosen by these six.[28]

Now all we need to do is decide where. I suggest someplace in DC without air conditioning.

disa on July 14, 2011 at 1:49 PM

we do not know what it contains.
Schadenfreude on July 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM

He has no plan. That’s why he left last night.

Could you just imagine being called to a meeting and showing up unprepared? With no talking points, no figures, no data? But you CAN show up with a turdburger (if you’re obama) and ask the panel to eat it. When they say no?

Well, ya stomp your feets and you slam the door.

Child.

Key West Reader on July 14, 2011 at 1:51 PM

All snark aside, if this group actually manages to put together a bipartisan deal on debt and deficit reduction, it will be difficult for either party to resist it.

I find that very hard to believe, with the GOP House members elected on a promise and pledge not to raise taxes. This gang of six douchebag Senators has no influence with the House whatsoever, Coburn included. Nobody in the House gives a rat’s a$$ about that grandstander.

But he may be right about giving the libs a tax increase on their billionaire supporters as a concession to achieve spending cuts. And there must be a way to let O’Bozo own that tax increase, and not the GOP.

Jaibones on July 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

disa on July 14, 2011 at 1:49 PM

I’m sure the Marines at Quantico have some nice tents they could put up. Show them how to dig a latrine, too.

Maybe even lend them soem Off! for the mosquitoes.

Wethal on July 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Now all we need to do is decide where. I suggest someplace in DC without air conditioning.

disa

How about outside by the grave of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery? That should concentrate their minds.

honsy on July 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

which includes VIP seating at a “Birthday Concert” where celebs will be performing and a dinner with the president.

We can all assume that the IRS will be on their game, taxing every performer for their donation of art at a $35,000 a seat venue? That tax bill will sting a little bit, won’t it?

Jaibones on July 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

How on earth could this be seen as anything else than Kent Conrad – trying to deflect, and take heat off of the President of the United States? Barack Obama, you know the head of the Democrat Party. The same one who can’t negotiate without bullying and threatening to cut off Senior citizens SS checks – Don’t call my bluff Eric. The Democrats are taking hits in the news cycle. Conrad is attempting damage control for the President, who isn’t looking very Presidential. The “optics” are very, very bad. Why on would Tom Coburn, return to help Conrad, sell the sky is falling drama? Surely there is something constructive Tom Coburn could be doing?

Dr Evil on July 14, 2011 at 1:57 PM

How’s this for tax revenue strategery?

All corporate donors pay a 25% tax on any donations to either party to the treasury.

All Union “donations” are taxed at 25% payable to the State in which the union is domiciled.

Like that, Obama? No? Why?

Tell us why that won’t “close the gap”

Key West Reader on July 14, 2011 at 1:59 PM

“Coburn did warn when he quit the Gang that Republicans would have to accept more tax revenue as a trade-off for structural changes in the federal budget.”

That is simply not going to fly.

Only one option could MAYBE pass the House (other than an outright default) and that would be some type of hyrbrid of the McConnell plan that at least garners about $1.5 trillion in cuts as soon as the ceiling is raised.

In fact, at a presser 5 minutes ago Boehner commented that the McConnell plan “might look good a couple of weeks from now,” as we near the August 2nd “deadline.”

Indy82 on July 14, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Why not just carry on discussions with TOTUS, while Barry subs for TOTUS at the birthday bash?

Talking with TOTUS will be just as productive as “talking” with the jackass whose own party FAILED TO PASS A BUDGET LAST YEAR — the most basic duty of government.

fred5678 on July 14, 2011 at 2:00 PM

I have a high opinion of Tom Coburn right now. If Tom Coburn (R) Oklahoma, assist the Democrats by giving them political cover, he get’s moved into the dilettante column.

Dr Evil on July 14, 2011 at 2:02 PM

“Only one option could MAYBE pass the House (other than an outright default) and that would be some type of hyrbrid of the McConnell plan that at least garners about $1.5 trillion in cuts as soon as the ceiling is raised.”

I mean $1.5 trillion enacted as soon as the ceiling is raised, but spread out over 10 years. Obama/Pelosi/Reid will never agree to $1.5 trillion in cuts to be carried through in one year.

Indy82 on July 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Math.

If the DNC and Obama raised 87M as they have been touting so vociferously in the past few days… donated 25% of their “take”, why we could pay our Seniors, Veterans, Disabled and Welfare peeps 21,750,000.00

So? How’s bout it Obama? Debbie Wasserman? Pelosi? Reid?

You wanna tout your “take”? Share the sacrifice.

Key West Reader on July 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM

We can all assume that the IRS will be on their game, taxing every performer for their donation of art at a $35,000 a seat venue? That tax bill will sting a little bit, won’t it?

Jaibones on July 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

$35,000 bucks for a seat at the crap hole known as the Aragon Ballroom? I guess all those sparkly stars on the ceiling there will really make look like the God he thinks he is.

Knucklehead on July 14, 2011 at 2:05 PM

It looks like we’ll have to do something similar to a papal conclave.

Now all we need to do is decide where. I suggest someplace in DC without air conditioning.

disa on July 14, 2011 at 1:49 PM

The issue, unfortunately, has nothing to do with seclusion or lack of meetings.

Both sides do NOT want to be seen as caving lest they lose their base. Fortunately for the GOP, though, they can afford to ride out the clock because the so-called “default”, which would be anything but, would force the Dems gravy train to slow down or come to an end.

TheRightMan on July 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

The U.S. pays for AIDS and education programs, in China, with borrowed money…from China.

Our politicians are derelict.

Let the U.S. people meet these goons. Run them out, with pitchforks, all of them.

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Rush is telling it now. Just like we all know.

Nobody respects this guy.

Key West Reader on July 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

There should be no deal just for the sake of doing a deal. There are principles involved that should be more important than “Let’s Make A Deal.” In the end, both parties are going to agree to take whats behind door number three and all we’ll get is a case of canned peas.

It’s time to end the charade. Leave the debt limit where it is and let the welfare state crash and burn.

Entitlements?

Colonel Jessup said it best “I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

Stephen Macklin on July 14, 2011 at 2:19 PM

WE CAN’T AFFORD BLINDNESS ANYMORE! I am very skeptical that this isn’t a grand, new plan devised for the benefit of the bases — created on-the-fly, because the American citizens aren’t going for the original production. Both sides of this debate are just trying to avoid the blame, and are avoiding any semblance of leadership. The only lions left in DC are in the zoo.

Mutnodjmet on July 14, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Entitlements?

Colonel Jessup said it best “I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

Stephen Macklin on July 14, 2011 at 2:19 PM

What Americans need to understand is this:

There are able-bodied, well meaning, big hearted Americans that are on a plantation called “Welfare”. They were born into it; I was. You are born into it and you can’t get off that welfare, foodstamps, child care tax credits….

Doesn’t anyone understand? When you fund people “Womb to Tomb” there is no incentive. No incentive for greatness, no incentive to work, no incentive to be productive. If the gubmint gone pay all yo bills.

Sorry folks, It’s not the Seniors we need to concern ourselves with. It’s the Welfare Pimps n Queens.

I still have the ole’ food coupons. So challenge me, bitches.

Key West Reader on July 14, 2011 at 2:30 PM

Wethal on July 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM
honsy on July 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM
TheRightMan on July 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

I heard the townspeople dumped chamber pots on the cardinals until they took care of business (no doubt after the roof removal).

The more I think about this idea, the more I like it.

disa on July 14, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Until Heave-Ho the Barry O joins the Gang of Seven, nothing will get done.

Which might not sit too well with Moody’s, but the American people might like it!

Steve Z on July 14, 2011 at 2:33 PM

The democrats have not produced a budget in over two years. Why are they drawing pay?

DanMan on July 14, 2011 at 2:35 PM

In the end, both parties are going to agree to take whats behind door number three and all we’ll get is a case of canned peas.

Barry O got wee-wee’d up, and took a pee in the can. Or he’s eating peas to feed his pea-brain.

Steve Z on July 14, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Hold off until Barry’s birthday party. He’s got a lot on his mind, like what kinds of gifts he’ll get.

You know, priorities.

GarandFan on July 14, 2011 at 2:38 PM

What Obama doesn’t seem to understand is this:

America will get it on without your pansy azz.

Key West Reader on July 14, 2011 at 2:39 PM

All snark aside, if this group actually manages to put together a bipartisan deal on debt and deficit reduction, it will be difficult for either party to resist it.

Yup! Right there…if NOBODY stands on principle, knows what’s at stake, forgets why they were elected. All that happens and you get a RINO Fiesta…deal of no consequence heralded by the MFM!!!

winston on July 14, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Senator Conrad, exactly what is your staff from your “Senate Committee on Budget” doing? I understand you get additional staff members when you Chair a committee. Since you haven’t prepared a budget for 806 days, what have they been doing?

barnone on July 14, 2011 at 2:59 PM

In fact, at a presser 5 minutes ago Boehner commented that the McConnell plan “might look good a couple of weeks from now,” as we near the August 2nd “deadline.”

Indy82 on July 14, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Yep, trust the Party of Stupid. Passing the McConnell plan will not only ENSURE Obama’s re-election, it will definitely lose the GOP the House, and they can forget about capturing the Senate.

The naive elites that think it is a good plan, just wait until Obama goes on TV armed with the unchecked power to raise the debt limit and turns around to blame the GOP that instead of doing the heavy lifting, they would rather abdicate their role. He will then say: “I am prepared to do anything to ensure that America maintains its credit rating and fulfills its debt obligations!”

What does McConnell and the GOP elite then say? “But…but…but…”, they will sputter, “… he made us do it”

Only naive fools will accept that the media will ever hold Obama accountable for anything. Trust me, they can’t wait for a deal that suckers the GOP to be signed, and then go trumpeting the “great deeds” of Obama.

The debt limit is the ONLY CARD the GOP has left before 2012. If they squander it, they can kiss 2012 goodbye.

TheRightMan on July 14, 2011 at 3:01 PM

What annoys me is how RINOs specialize in symbolic “nothingness”?

Let’s vote Obamacare through committee and force Dems to take a difficult vote…

Let’s agree to an Obamacare vote before Christmas, and don’t worry, we will run ads against them…

Let’s agree to meaningless cuts in the 2011 budget and save our political capital for the bigger fight – debt limit and entitlements…

Suckers! Hello? This current bunch of Dems are radicals and proud of it. They will gladly run roughshod over you every single opportunity they get.

TheRightMan on July 14, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Can someone explain why, when they’re breaking the Budget Law, they aren’t in court like anyone else would be when they break the law? Or doesn’t Congress have to obey the law?

Common Sense on July 14, 2011 at 3:30 PM

I suggest someplace in DC without air conditioning.

disa on July 14, 2011 at 1:49 PM

How about outside by the grave of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery?

honsy on July 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

The only lions left in DC are in the zoo.

Mutnodjmet on July 14, 2011 at 2:28 PM

I think Mutnodjmet just gave me an idea for a proposed meeting place to dump these legislators!

dominigan on July 14, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Why are they not impeached, the goons on the left?

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Excellent link. Also like your pitchfork idea.

Gang-of-One on July 14, 2011 at 3:59 PM

to eat dinner and make a penultimate push to a deal. …

Second to last push? So when do they expect to make the final ultimate push?

AH_C on July 14, 2011 at 4:31 PM

The Gang of Six rides again!

Thank goodness, we’re saved!

/sarc

Adjoran on July 14, 2011 at 5:03 PM

I think Mutnodjmet just gave me an idea for a proposed meeting place to dump these legislators!

dominigan on July 14, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Congressmen not Christians to the lions, eh? May we toss the most definitely unChristian Obama in with them?

disa on July 14, 2011 at 5:12 PM

The gang of six is irrelevant. The house is what matters and there better not be any increased taxes.

stefano1 on July 14, 2011 at 6:12 PM