Two months ago, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Six” deficit-reduction talks, said the group was “getting close” to striking a deal. Two weeks ago, however, the negotiations “nearly collapsed,” and the whole initiative was on the verge of being scrapped.
As of yesterday, members of the gang signaled that the talks are not only back on track, but are also “very close” to a compromise. And given what participants are saying about the plan’s substance, Democrats will soon wish the talks had collapsed.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Gang of Six budget negotiators, said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that tackling Social Security’s solvency remains on the table for the group.
The Gang of Six is attempting to put the December recommendations of the bipartisan fiscal commission into law. Social Security does not contribute to deficit spending since it draws benefits from a separate trust fund, but the fiscal commission sought to ward off a solvency crisis for Social Security after 2037 by raising the retirement age while reducing benefits. […]
Including Social Security in the Gang of Six package appears to be a concession by Democrats made in exchange for agreement to raise some revenue by Republicans.
In addition to needlessly going after Social Security, the gang also reportedly intends to eliminate the home mortgage tax deduction. As Warner put it, “We are going to make everybody mad with our approach.”
That’s almost certainly an understatement. It’s difficult to scrutinize a blueprint that hasn’t been released, but in addition to Warner’s comments, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), another gang member, told Fox News yesterday that the agreement will also include spending caps on mandatory and discretionary spending, which is hopelessly insane.
By all appearances, Democrats in this group are prepared to effectively give up any hopes of progressive governance for a generation and give in to entitlement cuts, in exchange for tax increases that sane Republicans should consider a no-brainer anyway.
If the gang reaches an agreement, and it looks like the one being talked about by its members, I’m hard pressed to imagine how it could pass.