Gang of six rolls out debt proposal
July 19th, 2011
02:15 PM ET
12 years ago

Gang of six rolls out debt proposal

Washington (CNN) - A bipartisan Senate plan to slash the nation's debt by about $3.7 trillion over the next ten years got a largely positive reception Tuesday when presented to about 50 senators in a closed meeting in the Capitol.

The plan was offered by the so-called Gang of Six debt negotiators. However, with some final details still left to sort out on the long-sought compromise, it was not clear if the proposal would have enough support – or time - to play a role in separate congressional negotiations to increase the debt ceiling by August 2nd.

Read full text of the plan here (pdf).

"We've gone from a Gang of Six to a Mob of Fifty," said an upbeat Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, as he left the meeting.

But Manchin stopped short of supporting the proposal, saying only that it had "great promise."

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, who is the Budget Committee chair and a member of the Gang of Six, praised the proposal.

"We've come up with a plan and it's comprehensive and it's balanced and it changes fundamentally the trajectory of our debt," he said.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who was an original member of the gang but dropped out because he wanted deeper cuts to entitlement programs, said Tuesday he had rejoined the gang.

"The plan has moved significantly and it's where we need to be and it's a start," Coburn told reporters. "It doesn't solve our problems. It creates a way forward where we can solve our problems."

Conrad said Coburn agreed to rejoin after the group added $116 billion in savings to entitlement health care programs.

The complex plan – hammered out over months of steady negotiations - envisions deep spending cuts to discretionary spending and entitlement programs to make up about three-quarters of the savings. The remaining quarter would come from increased revenues achieved through tax reform.

"What you'll see is significant amount of revenue generated out of the tax reforms and reductions in the (marginal) rates," Coburn said.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, said senators are anxious to make a serious dent in the country's $14.3 trillion debt and many are worried an emerging debt ceiling compromise senate leaders are working on would not do enough.

"I think what happened this morning is that the Gang of Six began to turn into a bipartisan majority of senators who want to solve a national problem instead of play partisan politics. It got very emotional in there," Lieberman said. "This is the moment because everybody sees the process drifting towards a kick-the-can down the road response, which is embarrassing."

However, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a budget director under President George W. Bush, cautioned that it might be too late for the gang's work to be included in the debt ceiling process.

"This process is moving pretty quickly and obviously the House and White House have to be brought into it. It's a challenge."

Conrad said they hoped to hear back in 24 hours whether senators think there is enough Senate support to move forward with the plan. It would take 60 votes to get through the senate.

The original goal of the gang was to implement the recommendation of President Obama's fiscal commission, which called for $4 trillion in savings over ten years. In addition to Conrad and Coburn, its members include Democratic Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Mark Warner of Virginia and Republicans Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • Republicans
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. ConservaFASCISTS/Domestic Terrorists/Taliban/Al Queda/TRAITORS

    Republicans have signed a Grover Norquist' pledge not to raise taxes. So this Gang of Six deal won't garner their support either. Ideology is destroying our democracy. 3.7 trillion is modest and even less than what the President was calling for. Republicans just want to cut their way back into the black solely on the backs of the middle class and seniors and not compromise. They are not looking out for the best interest of the country.

    July 19, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. Charles W. Skinner

    The following statement means that the plan is Dead On Arrival: The remaining quarter would come from increased revenues achieved through tax reform.

    Until the POOR shoulder their "fair share" of the tax burden, NO NEW TAXES. When the top 1% pay 40% of Income Tax revenue and 5% of FICA taxes, while the bottom 50% pay 2.5% of Income and less than 25% of FICA taxes, the system is BROKEN.


    July 19, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Drogo, who bit the dust

    The Gang of Six knuckleheads. They've had months to figure this out and now as usual it's turned into a major crisis. Maybe that is the only way to get this done in our dysfunctional Congress.

    July 19, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Jay

    Victory for President Obama! And for sanity.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    July 19, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Me

    I just want my egg roll.

    July 19, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    The complex plan – hammered out over months of steady negotiations – envisions deep spending cuts to discretionary spending and entitlement programs to make up about three-quarters of the savings. The remaining quarter would come from increased revenues achieved through tax reform.
    Too bad that everyone who signed the Nordquist Pledge is ordained to vote against it because of increased revenues.
    Which, by the way, is the real reason why Coburn dropped out.

    July 19, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. mgc florida

    This is our elected reps actually working for the people instead of posturing. Good to see keep it going.

    July 19, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. a in austin

    I would hope that all elected officials could come together for the good of the American people to make the right choices and do the right thing rather than play partisan politics and "for the party" not the people.

    July 19, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Gee, whaddya know. The White House had a plan in the works all along, and Republicans were privy to the details; including Sen. Coburn who of late has been complaining about a lack of a detailed plan in writing. So, Republicans have been complaining about nothing the entire time. Just making some noise to be making some noise. Trying to "harry Barry" by any means necessary.

    July 19, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    I didn't hear any mention about the sacrifices corporations and the top 2% will be making. DId I miss something or are we still stuck with cultist nonsense from the extreme right wing GOBPbaggers?

    July 19, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. Mountaineer

    They're in, they're out, that's the Cantor-Coburn strategy to solving the debt-ceiling crisis. Neither politicans are worth a hill of beans; otherwise they would fullfill their committments when they get on committees. They remind me of SARAH PALIN!

    July 19, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |

    Good job, now pass this bill, and get it to the Presidents' desk!

    July 19, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  13. Willa-PA

    Roll back of taxes (no new taxes) for the rich to the way it was? included? or no deal...

    July 19, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. jean

    Do not let the Republicans take away any security for older Americans,and lay their Debt from the last 8 yrs, of Gop Destruction" on our backs!!! They are the "Culprits of our Debt!! Stay firm,President Obama, don,t budge on the Gang Of Norquist!!! Don,t let this "Creep" Crumble America" Obama till 2016!

    July 19, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. Toni

    Finally, grownups at work!

    July 19, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. Sank

    It should if the dang Congressmen do their jobs like we hired them to do. Just don't let the brainless one, Obama get his hands on it before it is passed.

    July 19, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    I don't care how many are in this "gang", I'm still waiting for these nutjob GOBPbaggin' cult members (and their Dem enablers) to ask for corporations and filthy rich to make sacrifices along with the rest of us. So far the teatards have continued to bow down to the whims of their wealthy masters.

    July 19, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Rousseau. L

    That's what I call bipartisan and the President had the courage to step up to the plate made the media known that is something he can support. I hope the rest of the republicans will step up plate as well and govern.

    July 19, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Mikey

    Perhaps there are now some adults for the President to deal with. Certainly the GOP House leadership doesn't qualify.

    July 19, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |