Issue Statement May 11, 2011
Why We Need The Gang Of Six
As members of The Concord Coalition Board of Directors and former members of Congress, we stronglysupport efforts by the bipartisan group of six Senators who have been working together to craft a deficitreduction plan based on the reco
mmendations of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibilityand Reform. The cooperative approach taken by the senators’ group is the most promising route to enactment of
legislation curbing the economically destructive and generationally inequitable explosion of debt that awaits if
we don’t change course.
The Gang of Six are U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss (R - Ga.), Tom Coburn (R - Okla.), Kent Conrad (D -N.D.), Mark Crapo (R - Ida.), Richard Durbin (D - Ill) and Mark Warner (D - Va.).We urge the Senators to see their effort through despite resistance from partisan advocates and only tepidsupport from party leaders.
The group’s work is important for several reasons:
It addresses a crucial need.
There is no question that current fiscal policy is unsustainable and that legislativeaction is needed to avoid a crisis. The basic problem is a growing structural gap between projected revenues andspending, mostly driven by an aging population and rising health care costs. We cannot hope that economicgrowth alone will be the cure.
It recognizes that there must be a comprehensive solution.
The natural tendency in Washington is to begindeficit-
reduction negotiations by taking things off the table. This may please each party’s political base but it
makes it all the more difficult to agree on a plan with credible numbers and political viability. Given themagnitude of the problem, and the need to balance political risks for members of both parties, nothing should beexempt from scrutiny, including entitlements, defense and taxes.
It is bipartisan.
Neither party has a monopoly on good ideas, and even if one did, neither party has the votesnor the public trust to muscle through a one-sided solution. Finding bipartisan solutions is not an abstract virtue;it is a practical necessity.
It is unique.
Bipartisan cooperation on deficit reduction is in short supply. The budget adopted by the House of
Representatives has no support from Democrats and thus no chance of becoming law. Similarly, the President’s
budget has no support from Republicans. A new bipartisan group, convened by the President and headed byVice President Joe Biden, has the potential to reach a limited agreement on legislation to raise the debt ceiling.There are already indications, however, that the difficult choices on core issues such as health care and taxeswill not be part of any plan they come up with.
It could produce a plan for others to rally around.
As of now, members of Congress and the public have achoice between partisan plans, which will get us nowhere, and the status quo, which is unsustainable. If theSenate group is able to agree on a plan, it will serve as a beacon for those who wish to support meaningfulbipartisan solutions. It would spark a more realistic debate about the inevitable trade-offs that must beconfronted and marginalize those who insist that their way is the only way. Moreover, with the group having