The news media, looking for any sign of breakthrough in debt ceiling talks, has managed to latch on to the much hyped return of the “Gang of Six”, with a new plan to achieve about $3.7 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years. While the Gang, with the return of Tom Coburn, has managed to generate lots of buzz about the potential for utilization of their “plan” as a way to get the debt ceiling raised and break the logjam, I would not be wagering all that much on the success of their effort.
The bi-partisan group has simply floated some new numbers, under a framework that has been loudly and consistently rejected by House Republicans. Since the Gang’s plan does include some new revenue I am at a loss to understand how it is different, as a framework, than what the President offered weeks ago. On top of that relatively simple fact we must add the negative attitudes of both Republican and Democratic leadership in the Senate towards the effort, and the plan. On that basis, and with the inability to get the framework converted to actual legislative language in anywhere near the necessary time-frame I think it is safe, for now, to not look to this proposal as one that will bring a deal forward.
So what is the way forward? The President has indicated he will veto a short term deal that does not address the long term problem. Whether even a framework can be agreed to in order to justify a signature on a short term extension is dubious in light of the stated position of the House. That leaves McConnell as the best alternative that is publicly on the table. There is plenty of talking going on, even private meetings between Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi. I am sure there is much we do not know about the deal potential, but it is critical that the nonsense stop here and now.