'Gang of Six' senators make rare public appearance
May 25th, 2011
07:41 PM ET
12 years ago

'Gang of Six' senators make rare public appearance

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In what could be the Washington equivalent of a Komodo dragon spotting, senators known as the Gang of Six made a rare public appearance on Wednesday – at least some of them.

At the Peter G. Peterson Foundation's Fiscal Summit held in Washington, four of the six original members of the bipartisan group working toward a deficit reduction plan sat down to a panel discussion. Though the senators withheld the details of their deficit reduction plan, they did give some insight into how the group works.

"It has not been hard. I think we like one another and that helps," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. "We have a different point of view on some issues but we work through it. It almost sounds like a legislative process and it's something we want to encourage."

"The fact that we can have six senators sit in a room for almost six months in this town and the contents of the discussion not get out, that's the way the Senate used to work," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia. "At times, all of us became frustrated but we always came back together. Unfortunately, Senator Coburn made the decision last Tuesday and exited the group and, as he said, take a break."

Last week, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, announced that he was "taking a break" from the deficit discussions, making the group, for now, a party of five.

Despite Coburn's absence, the group has continued to forge on with encouragement from their peers.

"You'd be surprised at the number of senators, viewed as one end or the other of the political extreme, who have said to everyone of us individually, stay at this, because what is the alternative?" said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Indiana, echoed the spirit of the group. "We are truly doing something that I haven't seen done in the United States Senate for a long time and that's to sit down as Republicans and Democrats and try to bridge the difference between our parties and our politics and America's politics on the most phenomenally broad-based issues of our time."

Although they did not give any timeline as to when they will release their deficit reduction plan, the senators did hint that their plan will involve raising revenue, likely through closing some current tax loopholes.

"While we're reducing tax rates a la Ronald Reagan, we're gonna increase revenues a la Ronald Reagan," Chambliss said. "It's exactly the same approach that was taken back then. We know it worked then, we know it can work again without raising the tax rates."

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, was not able to attend the panel due to last-minute changes in the Senate's schedule.

Filed under: Debt • Deficit • Dick Durbin • Saxby Chambliss • Tom Coburn
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Republican Robber Baron

    Coburn is a spineless wimp. "Taking a Break" ? What? He quit and walked out.

    Conrad is not a legit Democrat...sorry you are sold-out to the Big $ Lobbyists, not really any different from Coburn.

    The Senate desperately needs some new life. It is stale, broken and stuck in the past. The Senate even according to some of its own members doesn't do anything. With a gang of 6 that lies about "taking a break" and quits rather than solve issues they were suppose to fix...it is pretty obvious the Senate is totally dysfunctional.

    May 25, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Let's hope that once they come to sort of agreement that their caucuses will go with the flow.

    May 25, 2011 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  3. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on America!

    If their agreement does not include raising taxes on the filthy rich, and ending subsidies for Big Oil, then America will have lost big time.

    May 25, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  4. thomas

    Unfortunately, Senator Coburn made the decision last Tuesday and exited the group and, as he said, take a break!

    More like Coburn is hiding under a rock until the John Ensign scandal blows over !

    May 25, 2011 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  5. ED FL

    America has seen the Quack Doctor/Senator in action and his decision to advise and mess up the GOP Ensign and advised him to let his family try to buy off Ensign trysts with and aids wife. Just what the country needs another GOP Philanderer that claims to be a god fearing person or a member of the religous right. the country has seen this scenario many times lately.Maybe Coburn should try being an honest poitician instead of another know it all that knows very little.

    May 25, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |