Gang of Six Making a Comeback?

Posted: Nov 30, 2011 11:15 AM

According to Roll Call, with the failure of the supercommittee, it's a possibility.

With the super committee's failure last week, industrious lawmakers are grasping yet again at the opportunity to reach a sweeping deficit reduction deal — but they face the same obstacles that have crushed every group that's tried.

Still seeing an opportunity in the bleakest of legislative outlooks, the bipartisan "gang of six" met for dinner Monday night in the Capitol office suite of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to discuss a post-super-committee Congress. The group has grown to eight — and its members also tout the support of dozens more who attended informal information sessions throughout the summer — but the size of their challenge has not been reduced.

Let's take a look at what the Gang of Six produced the last time around, as Guy Benson pointed out back in July.

The 'Gang' plan is completely unacceptable to conservatives, and must be stopped.  Hennessey lists 17 substantive objections to the proposal, each of which is worth your time.  Here are a few of the most alarming elements of a deal that has the press corps -- and even some conservatives -- panting with excitement (emphasis mine):

It cuts defense spending while hiding the ball on nondefense spending: The only discretionary spending number provided is $866 B in defense (security) discretionary savings over the next 10 years.

The promised deficit reduction is both overstated and less than is needed: Their $3.7 trillion of claimed deficit reduction is bogus. It includes an unspecified amount of savings from a future legislative fast-track process that would require further Congressional and Presidential action if health spending growth exceeds a certain target.

It is a huge net tax increase: The Gang of Six plan would increase taxes by $2.3 trillion over the next 10 years relative to current policy. That’s roughly a 6.5 percent increase in total taxation. Put another way, the Gang of Six plan raises taxes $830 B more than would President Obama’s February budget.

It trades a permanent tax increase for only a temporary respite on spending: The plan proposes permanent increases in net taxation levels in exchange for a temporary slowdown in spending. The consequence of this would be kicking the can down the road. Deficits would be smaller for the next 5-10 years while the higher tax levels offset entitlement spending growth. But since the plan does nothing to flatten the curve of Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid spending, 5-10 years from now we will be right back where we are now, but with higher levels of taxation.

It precludes structural reforms to Medicare and Medicaid: The Plan says “while maintaining the basic structure of [Medicare and Medicaid].” That language precludes needed fundamental reforms to these programs, as contemplated in Bowles-Simpson, Rivlin-Ryan, or the House-passed budget resolution.

It leaves the core trillion dollar ObamaCare health entitlement in place: This problem is not specific to the Gang’s proposal, but it’s another reason for me to oppose it. Why are we talking about raising taxes and cutting defense spending at the same time that we are creating a new trillion health entitlement promise?

It locks in the net tax increase, then hopes to deliver on the stated tax reform policies: Procedurally the Gang’s plan would be turned into a budget resolution that can only commit the Senate to a total level of taxation, one that is way too high. After the budget resolution has been passed, then tax reform legislation would move (the plan says “within six months.”) If you are tempted by the promised details of tax reform, remember that those details would be negotiated after the Senate had already committed to a $2.3 trillion tax increase.Even if I could swallow a $2.3 trillion tax increase, which I can’t, I don’t trust the tax reform process enough to take that risk. The plan offers no procedural guarantees to prevent the tax policies described within it from being ignored by the Senate Finance Committee.

The conclusion? No real cuts, no entitlement reform and trillions in new taxes:

Is there any reason under the sun to agree to a deal featuring trillions in tax hikes and phony/unspecified/unlikely spending cuts (except for the explicit military cuts, of course) based on the word of Senate Democrats?  These are the same Senate Democrats who have willfully ignored the law by refusing to introduce a budget for the last 813 days -- for the express purpose of escaping criticism and deflecting the public's attention to their deceitful scare-tactics against conservative solutions.

If the Gang of Six decided to get back together, prepare for fail round two.