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Gang of 8 plots secret retreat
Politico ^ | 10/03/2012 | John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman

Posted on 10/03/2012 11:00:13 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will crisscross the country during the next month offering different visions for how to fix the country’s fiscal mess.

But in Washington, the senators in the Gang of Six — plus two newbies — will have a secret retreat next week hosted by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) to start cobbling together a plan to avoid the looming fiscal cliff.

For this round of talks, the bipartisan group has added Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former member of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) leadership team, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who has grown close to Obama as he tries to capture Colorado this election season.

Senate insiders confirmed the upcoming session, although the group will not disclose its location.

“This group continues to meet and work toward a bipartisan solution,” Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said.

Other Gang of Six members include Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

The group came together in the summer of 2011 to try to hammer out a deal to solve the debt ceiling crisis but failed to reach an agreement in the end.

Yet it’s jumped into the latest debate over the fiscal cliff — the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and a dramatic cut to federal spending, including for the Pentagon — to see try to see if the bipartisan fever catches widely.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), McConnell and other top senators have encouraged the talks to continue — largely because they have nothing to lose. These bipartisan groups typically don’t have much real power — in fact, last time, they were blamed for scuttling a deal between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) after they proposed higher revenue targets than agreed to by the principals.

Even through their track record is poor, such gangs do have appeal in Washington: They’re bipartisan, and seeing political opposites lock arms in genuine negotiations looks refreshing to both the media and the American public. These secret meetings — like the one Warner is hosting — play to official Washington’s obsession with quiet negotiations between politically serious figures as the way to unravel the most pressing political problems.

But the dynamic, which is sure to distract many in town, ignores a fundamental truth: The House of Representatives is where the action will be after the election.

House Republicans have already passed a bill that extends all the Bush tax rates for a year and moved on legislation to blunt massive cuts to Pentagon and defense spending. If past is precedent, Boehner will hold that up as the party’s negotiating position until the rest of the players are ready to come to the table.

Plus, Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Republican Conference has been hesitant to put enough revenue on the table to satisfy Democrats and refused to endorse any increase in taxes.

“The House has outlined a common-sense path forward by passing legislation that replaces the sequester and stops the looming tax hike for one year while Congress works to enact comprehensive tax and entitlement reform. Tax hikes are a nonstarter, as the speaker has made clear,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said in a statement to POLITICO.

With Reid, Obama and Senate Democrats strongly opposed to extending the Bush tax rates for anyone making more than $200,000 annually and families making over $250,000 annually, the lines are set for a huge political clash. Insiders on both sides of the aisle are bracing for a rocky lame-duck session no matter who wins on Election Day.

If polls stay steady, Boehner will be at the helm of a House filled with Republicans disappointed that Obama will have another four years in the White House.

If Romney wins, buckle up, because Republicans will face a whole new set of challenges. Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have tied themselves tightly to the House GOP budget. A Romney victory will only embolden Republicans to stick tight to those principles, which are nonstarters for almost every Democrat in Congress.

Romney and Ryan will also face the challenge of staffing a new administration while struggling with huge fiscal and budgetary challengers.

But the deadlines are clear and not moving.

Taxes are scheduled to go up at the end of the year if Congress takes no action, hitting an average middle-income family with a $2,000 jump, according to the Tax Policy Center. The rich will get hit with an even heftier tax bill.

Obama’s position is that top tax rates should snap back to near 40 percent, the same as they were under former President Bill Clinton. Boehner and McConnell want the Bush rates extended for everyone.

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day — a mere 55 days after Election Day — automatic cuts to the Pentagon and domestic spending will kick in. Defense contractors could begin laying people off. According to Cantor, the U.S. military could even begin rethinking its global engagement strategy.

On top of these massive fights over taxes and spending, the U.S. debt ceiling will need to be lifted by February or March. Remember how that went last time? It was messy.

And there’s a lot of talk about tax reform on the campaign trail — a mechanism that would be used in place of tax increases to create more revenue. Both sides have struggled to define what that would look like.

The positioning wars are already beginning. The New York Times floated on its front page Tuesday a three-step plan to solve the fiscal cliff. That drew a stern rebuke from McConnell, who later issued a statement saying he’s not aligning himself with the Gang of Six or any other group at this time. McConnell hopes that by November he’ll be majority leader in waiting. Even if he’s not, McConnell will still control enough votes to block any Democratic proposal.

“As the leader made clear many times, there can be no solution without the president’s involvement and leadership. Sadly, the president has been notably absent from any serious conversation about reducing our national debt,” said Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman. “And while the leader has encouraged Republican members to seek solutions and is aware that many members are discussing potential solutions, these efforts are still in the early stages, and he has not endorsed any particular effort over another.”

And there’s one other factor to consider in resolving the fiscal challenges — both McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who might take over as majority whip in the next Congress, are up for reelection in 2014. With strong tea party groups active in their home states, McConnell and Cornyn cannot ignore calls for fiscal belt-tightening from their conservative constituents or they could end up facing primary challenges.

And Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, is also up next cycle. Depending on who wins this year’s Senate battle in Montana, Baucus may see a different political landscape back home come January.

-- Steven Sloan contributed to this report.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: congress; fiscalcliff; taxhikes

1 posted on 10/03/2012 11:00:18 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

theater complete with the clowns


2 posted on 10/03/2012 11:03:10 AM PDT by paul51 (11 September 2001 - Never forget)
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To: SeekAndFind
Gang of 8 THIEVES conspire in the shadows to take more of your freedom and money....
3 posted on 10/03/2012 11:08:40 AM PDT by Tzimisce (THIS SUCKS)
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To: SeekAndFind

Why not a Gang of 1? Turn it over to Obamessiah as our benevolent dictator. This “Gang” cr@p has to stop.

We’re not Maoist (yet).


4 posted on 10/03/2012 11:09:19 AM PDT by peyton randolph (FUBO and his wookie beard)
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To: SeekAndFind

Watch rinos craft a bad deal before the election, or after an Obama defeat for that matter.


5 posted on 10/03/2012 11:09:34 AM PDT by samadams2000 (Someone important make......The Call!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Any time Mitch McConnell is doing something out of sight I worry.


6 posted on 10/03/2012 11:11:20 AM PDT by Paine in the Neck (Socialism consumes everything)
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To: SeekAndFind

We need a gang of 60+ Tea Party senators.


7 posted on 10/03/2012 11:16:16 AM PDT by TADSLOS (Conservatism didn't magically show up in Romney's heart in 2012. You can't force what isn't in you.)
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To: peyton randolph
Turn it over to Obamessiah as our benevolent dictator.

He doesn't want the job. He's moving to Hawaii into a $35 million mansion where he will preside as President of Hawaii.

The new benevolent dictator will be Valerie Jarrett. Official announcement comes Dec. 21, 2012.

8 posted on 10/03/2012 11:23:20 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 ( If you think I'm crazy, just wait until you talk to my invisible friend.)
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To: SeekAndFind

1. Indicative of the extreme degree of conditioning, many will read past this event and overlook that just the meeting itself is more $ leaching. The “drinks, food, lodging, transportation, aides.... times X no. of meals/days, and return transportation, even if it’s local” is ALL on U.S.

2. Self-authorization to do as they please. Has the so called “House” (also non accountable anymore) approved?

3. And of course, “bipartisan” is the inside code speak for further extortion abuse. As I’ve said before, we’re preparing for the 2014 Extortion-Care planned leverage early.


9 posted on 10/03/2012 11:38:11 AM PDT by Varsity Flight (Extortion-Care is the Government Work-Camp: Arbeitsziehungslager)
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To: Tzimisce

Is there one conservative among them?


10 posted on 10/03/2012 11:40:07 AM PDT by Maryhere ("HE comes to rule the earth")
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To: SeekAndFind

While I can’t speak for the rest of these “senators”, my senator, Warner, voted for Obamacare and tried to sell it to the citizens of VA by saying it fell under the “general health and wellfare” clause of the Constitution...
so lame, it’s laughable..
it will be remembered when he’s up for re-election.


11 posted on 10/03/2012 11:48:05 AM PDT by matginzac
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To: UCANSEE2
"The new benevolent dictator will be Valerie Jarrett. Official announcement comes Dec. 21, 2012."

That's a scary thought. Obama/Biden win in November. After the Electoral College approves the ticket, Biden resigns to spend more time w/ his family and Obama appoints Jarret to VP. Obama then abdicates and absconds to Hawaii leaving Val-Jar Binks in the Oval Office :-(

12 posted on 10/03/2012 11:56:01 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: SeekAndFind
"If past is precedent, Boehner will hold that up as the party’s negotiating position until the rest of the players are ready to come to the table Harry Reid will refuse anything that doesn't increase spending and have Politico and the rest of the media blame Republicans, especially Tea Party types." The 'Big Lie' which Politico is reinforcing here.

Oh, Harry has Obama and the media in his pocket.

13 posted on 10/03/2012 12:06:03 PM PDT by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: matginzac

Every Dem senator here runs as a moderate and then fanatically follows his party’s line- and then gets reelected running as a moderate.

Maybe Warner will be the last but media play of sham ‘bipartisan’ acts like this will help him.


14 posted on 10/03/2012 12:12:21 PM PDT by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: SeekAndFind

BOHICA


15 posted on 10/03/2012 12:34:02 PM PDT by Kozak (The means of defence again.t foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home JM)
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To: SeekAndFind

Sounds par for the course !


16 posted on 10/03/2012 12:36:43 PM PDT by timestax (Why not drug tests for the President AND all White Hut staff ? ? ?)
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To: Joe 6-pack

RE: , Biden resigns to spend more time w/ his family and Obama appoints Jarret to VP.

____________________________

That is subject to approval by both houses of Congress. That could happen if :

1) Both houses of Congress are once again under Democrat control; or

2) One or both houses are under Republican control and they cave to Obama’s wishes.


17 posted on 10/03/2012 12:38:11 PM PDT by SeekAndFind (bOTRT)
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To: SeekAndFind

Gee...why am I so sure that the ONLY solution...devolution of Federal power by massive deregulation, shuttering( and I mean rats/squirrels eating the stuffing outa the chairs shuttering!) of half a dozen major Federal agencies, functional Fair Tax reform and ditching Obamacare...aren’t anywhere on these clowns agenda?!!


18 posted on 10/03/2012 12:42:18 PM PDT by mo (If you understand, no explanation is needed. If you don't understand, no explanation is possible.)
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To: Maryhere

Is there one conservative among them?”

Not by my definition and God help us if Cornyn is Senate whip. Only hope that someone steps up to the plate to run against him. Whoever it is will get my vote.


19 posted on 10/03/2012 1:11:18 PM PDT by Grams A (The Sun will rise in the East in the morning and God is still on his throne.)
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To: paul51

Bring in the clowns!


20 posted on 10/03/2012 1:18:56 PM PDT by Scarlet Pimpernel (And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?)
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To: SeekAndFind

Any such meetings will be to protect themselves, not America.


21 posted on 10/03/2012 1:19:09 PM PDT by airborne (MY HEROES DON'T WEAR CAPES. MY HEROES WEAR DOG TAGS ! ! !)
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To: SeekAndFind

Gheitner was approveded by a republican controlled senate. All Obama has to say is she’s the only person who can do the job.


22 posted on 10/03/2012 1:52:51 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: mrsmith

I, for one, hope to remind VA voters of his record...
He’s a snake in the grass...no more!


23 posted on 10/03/2012 3:33:26 PM PDT by matginzac
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