Capitol Hill 'Gangs' Not Forcing Compromises

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 11:30 AM

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Sen. Tom Coburn’s break with the “Gang of Six” shows yet again that when it comes to gangs, those formed in the halls of the Capitol are not exactly the Bloods or Crips. Gangs have had a poor record in recent years forcing compromise on the warring Democrats and Republicans and are viewed as “irrelevant” by some when it comes to deficit reduction talks.

The current Gang of Six, now five, had been working to reach a bipartisan agreement on the deficit. The original Gang of Six, that included Max Baucus, R-Idaho, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, failed it its attempt to reach a compromise on health care reform, the Wyden-Bennett, also working on health care, failed, and the Lieberman-Graham-Kerry led group did not get a cap-and-trade law, The Washington Post reports.

Success is more likely when the leadership of both parties meet and make a deal.

“Gangs of well-meaning, bipartisan-leaning leaders embody how we want Washington to work, and as such, they frequently receive glowing, excited coverage. But, at least lately, they don't seem to be how Washington actually works.

"The inspirational theory underlying most of these efforts -- that a few well-meaning individuals can overcome partisanship and interest-group pressure and, in doing, inspire their colleagues to slip free of the surly bonds of politics and do what's ‘right’ -- tends to work in reverse, with the few well-meaning individuals succumbing to the realization that their plan can't pass, and they may not even be able to survive advocating it,” the Post wrote.

gang of 6In conclusion, the Post noted that Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week, "With all due respect to the Gang of Six, or any other bipartisan discussions going on on this issue, the discussions that can lead to a result between now and August are the -- are the talks being led by Vice President Biden."

Peter Roff, a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty, concurs, but for a different reason. Writing in Politico, he said the Gang of Six is “irrelevant because there is no need for a ‘meaningful, bipartisan deal on deficit reduction.’”

“Deficits are not like the tornados; they don’t just happen or appear out of nowhere,” he argued. “They are the product of government spending beyond its means. Panels and groups and commissions like the ‘Gang of Six’ are always about one thing: giving cover for tax increases that feed the beast and never, ever address the problem. Congress needs spending discipline – and they shouldn’t make the American people pay more for it in the form of higher taxes. Period.”

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