Can the 'Gang of 6' end the debt fight?

A bipartisan group of senators wins President Obama's endorsement with a plan to cut $3.7 trillion from future deficits. Will it save us from default?

A demonstrator in front of the Capitol on Monday: A new deficit-reduction proposal from the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of 6" has the potential to end the debt-ceiling standoff with a rare Gran
(Image credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

When Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) pulled out of the Senate's "Gang of 6" in May, the group's goal of creating a bipartisan plan to shrink the federal deficit was given up for dead. But when the staunch fiscal conservative rejoined the gang on Tuesday, and the six senators (three Republicans and three Democrats) lobbed into the debt-celing fight a viable proposal to cut at least $3.7 trillion over 10 years, President Obama gave the plan his nod of support. The plan would raise $1 trillion in revenue by closing tax loopholes, reduce future Social Security benefits, and slash hundreds of billions of dollars from a variety of federal departments. The proposal's warm reception on Tuesday made for "one of the more exhilarating days of legislative politics we've had in quite some time," says Joe Klein at TIME. Can the enthusiastically greeted proposal get Congress to raise the debt ceiling before the U.S. defaults?

This is Congress' best "escape hatch": The Gang of 6 deal just "may be the deus ex machina that magically resolves the debt-ceiling impasse," says Jon Healey in the Los Angeles Times. It requires partisans on both sides to "stick a fork in their favorite campaign issues," but there are wins for each side, too. "The lateness of the hour (in debt-ceiling terms) could also lead more sober-minded legislators" to embrace this Grand Bargain before the clock runs out.

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