I never invested much real hope in the so-called “Gang of Six,” the group of Republican and Democratic senators trying to find some solution to the deficit stalemate, but it’s been the only forum in which bipartisan negotiation was at least taking place, and people seemed to be making an effort.
Now, with the withdrawal of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, that too seems to have broken down.
“The debt is still $14 trillion. It’s got to be solved in a bipartisan way,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), another member of the group, said Tuesday. “I hope that we’ll eventually, as a Gang of Six, be able to come together on some long-term resolution of the issue. But it looks like that’s not going to happen in the short term.”
Even if such an agreement were reached, the six senators would still have had to find another 45 fellows senators to sign onto the deal — 54 if the process got filibustered somehow. And the likelihood of that happening approaches zero. And even if you somehow overcame those hurdles, you’d then have to get the package of spending cuts and tax hikes through the ultra-conservative House. Good luck on that one.
So in a practical sense, the failure of the Gang of Six to reach agreement doesn’t mean much. Symbolically, it means a lot, and it isn’t good. If a small group of six meeting since January can’t hammer something out, the chances of 100 senators and 435 congressmen doing so seem very bleak.
It does not bode well.
– Jay Bookman