New ‘Gang of Six’ to Take on Deficit

Another Gang of Six?

The top Republicans in the House and Senate on Tuesday rounded out the list of negotiators scheduled to gather on May 5 with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to talk deficit reduction. The number ended up being exactly the same as the number of members in that other bipartisan group of senators meeting to map out a deficit plan.

In the House, Speaker John A. Boehner selected Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, as his designee, while Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, said he would dispatch Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Senate Republican, as his second.

On the Democratic side, the negotiators are Senators Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and Max Baucus of Montana, and Representatives James Clyburn of South Carolina and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. If one counts Mr. Biden, presumably the group could then become the Gang of Six Plus One or even the Gang of Seven.

Both of the newly designated Republicans are strongly opposed to any tax or revenue increases as a way to lower the deficit, which will no doubt complicate the talks. Mr. Kyl has been a longtime champion of eliminating the estate tax entirely, and Mr. Cantor is fond of reciting the Republican mantra that America doesn’t have a taxing problem, it has a spending problem.

Still, given the disdain Republicans have shown for President Obama’s original proposal for a new round of negotiations featuring 16 members of Congress, it should probably be interpreted as a positive sign that Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell designated anyone at all.

Quite prominently missing from the group are any members of the Senate Gang of Six, which is made up of Democrats Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Mark Warner of Virginia along with Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Article source: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/new-gang-of-six-to-take-on-deficit/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

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