While President Obama and Republican lawmakers squabble over how to cut spending in the 2012 budget, a bipartisan group of six senators is preparing to unveil their own proposal to reduce the nation's massive deficit soon after Congress returns from its two-week spring recess.
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., a member of the so-called "Gang of Six," said Wednesday that the group is "very close" to announcing a deal. The plan would likely close the federal budget gap by both raising taxes and slashing spending on domestic programs and defense. Durbin confirmed Tuesday that entitlement spending is likely to be included in that formula, starting with Social Security, which he said will run out of money by 2037.
"We've come to know one another and trust one another and understand one another and I think we are moving closer to an agreement," Durbin told ABC News, adding that the six lawmakers feel "a sense of urgency," to produce a plan very soon or face irrelevancy as Congress moves to act on a budget proposal for 2012.
Obama and House Republican Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have already released opposing budget proposals, with Democrats calling for tax increases and Republicans proposing deeper spending cuts.
"If and when we reach an agreement, it will be in the middle," Durbin said of the Gang of Six plan, "a bipartisan effort that I think has a chance to succeed."
Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government, pointed out that the Gang of Six will have a hard time selling their proposal to House and Senate leadership and the president, who all appear to be ignoring the group because they oppose either the tax increases or the cuts to spending and Social Security.
Obama on Tuesday sidestepped a question about whether he supported the Gang of Six while he was conducting a town hall meeting in Virginia. Indeed, Obama is forming an entirely new debt panel to come up with a proposal.
In addition to Durbin, the Gang of Six includes Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va.; Kent Conrad, D-N.D.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. Four of the senators served on Obama's debt commission, which last year proposed cutting $4 trillion from the budget and protecting Social Security by gradually raising the retirement age to 69.
The debt commission couldn't garner enough votes to pass its plan, but the senators decided to propose their own legislation to shrink the nation's deficit, which is projected to run $1.65 trillion this year.
Part of their proposal could incorporate the debt commission's plan to raise the retirement age.
Warner, a former telecommunications executive who now serves on the Senate Budget Committee, told CBS News this week the proposal could raise taxes and cut spending.
"We are going to make everybody mad with our approach," Warner said.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/ … z1K5bqMHMw
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