U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and the “Gang of Six” effort to shape a massive deficit-reduction package have sparked the curiosity of two of the world’s top business publications.
The Economist starts with the early conversations between Chambliss and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.:
To limit partisanship and keep the proceedings low-key, Mr Chambliss and Mr Warner initially only invited senators who were not seeking re-election and not part of their party’s leadership. When the deficit commission, led by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, released its report on December 1st, however, the two Democratic and two Republican senators who supported the final report joined the group…..
The group now has an informal membership of around 30. They have yet to coalesce behind a single proposal, but are considering a bill that would instruct committees in Congress to enact the commission’s major recommendations, with triggers that would cut spending automatically and eliminate tax breaks if Congress does not act within prescribed deadlines.
But the group is unsure how fast to move, how ambitious to be, or how closely to follow the commission’s report which, as Mr Chambliss notes, “does not lend itself to legislative language.”
Meanwhile, Howard Gleckman of Forbes magazine writes of a “remarkable public exchange of letters” with Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and the suggestion that the Republican side “might – might – support revenue raising tax reform” as part of a deficit deal:
All of this is happening in code, and with classic Washington indirection. The three lawmakers—none of whom would ever be confused with a Rockefeller Republican—are the GOP half of a small bipartisan group of senators that is trying to develop a compromise deficit reduction plan…..
When word spread that the three were working with Senate Democrats to design a bipartisan budget that would reduce spending, restructure Social Security, and reform and raise taxes, Norquist pounced. The three senators, he wrote, “were implicated as parties to a bipartisan budget deal containing a net tax increase.”
….Within hours, the three lawmakers responded with a very carefully written letter of their own. “Our pledge,” they wrote, “is to protect taxpayers, not special interests. To do so we must analyze every aspect of the federal budget, including the tax code.” On the other hand, they asserted their belief that “tax hikes will hinder, not promote, economic growth.” Finally, they included the usual disclaimer: The news story that reported their participation in budget talks provided only “rumored details.”
Before the day was out, Norquist gave the three his blessing. Their letter, he said, was “very encouraging.”
Speaking of national attention, Gov. Nathan Deal is getting his share this week.
Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, an ardent foe of illegal immigration, took on two governors who he thinks may be waffling on the topic.
One was Mitch Daniels of Indiana. The other:
What mystifies me is Georgia governor Nathan Deal’s weaselly equivocation on his state legislature’s immigration legislation.
Deal earned an A+ from Numbers USA during his 17 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, checked off all the right boxes when running for governor, and campaigned on bringing an Arizona-style law to Georgia.
But that was before the Farm Bureau got to him…..
Krikorian picked out recent comments from Deal acknowledging that Georgia businesses had raised concerns about being required to use E-Verify, the federal computer database that helps ascertain the residency status of new hires.
Russ Spencer of Fox5 this week had a sit-down with the governor, in which Deal appears more firm on the issue:
And in a piece on the forces pulling at Deal, my AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon quotes Deal spokesman Brian Robinson:
Deal’s spokesman said the governor’s work buttressing the HOPE scholarship program shows his backbone.
“The governor is going to take a tough stand” against illegal immigration, Robinson said. “We understand that some folks are not going to be happy unless he is in jackboots kicking in doors. We don’t think that is the proper role for him to play in this.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider