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Gang of Six, Redux

The more things change, the more we forget the past.

An article in today’s New York Times invites us to consider the important work left to be done by the so-called Congressional “supercommittee,” a 12-member panel of Republican and Democratic legislators charged with the massively significant task of agreeing on a minimum of $1.5 trillion more in cuts, by Thanksgiving, in order to avoid triggering cuts to both parties’ most sacred programs, including defense and domestic discretionary spending.

In advance of this next chapter in the Three-Ring Circus Freak Show that has become domestic politics in this country, this author would like to remind everyone that there has always been a post-partisan solution on the table, throughout the John Boehner-Barack Obama Standoff, and before the Democrats caved on their insistence that the compromise be balanced between reductions in expenditures and rises in revenues.  This plan, of course, was proposed by a working group of six US Senators, known as the Gang of Six.

The plan was brave, if not naive, in its willingness to make massive changes to programs and spending priorities both Republicans and Democrats held dear.  The plan seemed to anticipate the dire situation at hand, and, for a brief moment in time, put the good of the nation, its citizens, and its future, ahead of short-term political gain and self-centered political advancement.  This quality may have been the plan’s undoing.  In any event, it is worth reviewing the Jamie Dupree’s “Washington Insider” blog, in the off-chance that Americans actually insist that we find a meaningful compromise going into the Thanksgiving Massacre.

The Gang of Six plan would cut the deficit by $3.7 trillion to $4.65 trillion, depending on whose numbers you use.  Publicly-held debt would be stable by 2014, and publicly-held debt would be reduced to 70% of GDP by 2021.  Both security and nonsecurity discretionary spending will be cut.  Spending caps will be imposed, and nearly $2 trillion in tax revenues will be realized.  All in all, the plan takes evenly and broadly from a variety of areas to significantly reduce the debt and improve America’s long-term fiscal health.

With all the talk about the impending fiscal disaster that may, in fact, be striking momentarily in the form of Wall Street’s reaction to the S&P downgrade, Americans who care about a post-partisan solution to the economic problems we face would do well to consider the Gang of Six plan, and remind their legislators, as well as personalities in the mainstream media, that this plan is, in fact, still out there, still viable, and still ready for enactment.

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