A dozen senators ranging from Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn to Delaware Democrat Chris Coons have begun to organize closed-door briefings with leading economic experts to prod Congress into action. Some lawmakers like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) are quietly pushing to have a major tax and budget package ready by September so a bill can be introduced immediately after the November elections and passed by Christmas. Others like Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have taken matters into their own hands by privately preparing bills they hope will shape the post-election debate…

Above all else, they say, these summer talks must be done secretly and never be made public for fear that any new proposals could get swept into the highly toxic partisan atmosphere ahead of a historic presidential election. The secret talks might allow Democrats to entertain deeper cuts to entitlements than they usually would, and Republicans could talk more candidly about increasing tax revenues — without either side getting blasted in the political arena.

“Everyone is kind of holding their cards because we realize that it’s not game time yet,” said Corker, who has spent the past five months privately drafting a bill resembling the 2010 proposal authored by the chairmen of the White House deficit commission, Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson. That $4 trillion deficit-cutting plan would lower individual and corporate tax rates but raise revenue by eliminating tax deductions and make changes to entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.