And Then There Were Five. Tom Coburn Leaves The Gang Of Six, Er, Five

This is such good news. I was pleased when Jon Kyl said on Fox News Sunday that this Gang hadn't gotten very far in their negotiations, and now Tom Coburn has quit the bipartisan group of Senators trying to negotiate a budget deal altogether.

Washington Post:

The most outspoken Republican member of the Senate's "Gang of Six" abruptly dropped out of bipartisan debt-reduction talks Tuesday, declaring negotiations at "an impasse."

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) told reporters that the group, which until Tuesday had three Republican and three Democratic members, was talking “about the same things over and over and not getting any movement.”

“It’s just a recognition that we can’t get there,” Coburn said, suggesting that the emerging debt-reduction plan doesn’t do enough to control spending on federal retirement programs.

Coburn spokesman John Hart later issued a statement saying Coburn “is disappointed the group has not been able to bridge the gap between what needs to happen and what senators will support” and has decided to take “a break from the talks.

“He still hopes the Senate will, on a bipartisan basis, pass a long-term deficit reduction package this year,” Hart said in an e-mail. “He looks forward to working with anyone who is interested in putting forward a plan that is specific, balanced and comprehensive.”

Coburn has come under fire lately for his role in the Ensign scandal, but most of the Beltway media are more interested in their bipartisanship fetish than looking deeper into Coburn's activities. In any case, Andrea Mitchell almost couldn't keep a straight face when she talked about the new Gang of Five on MSNBC earlier today.

The remaining members of the group made plans to meet again Wednesday, saying they will keep trying to agree on a plan to reduce projected borrowing by $4 trillion over the next decade. But the departure of Coburn, the most prominent of the three conservatives, deals a severe blow to the effort. And it puts additional pressure on the two remaining Republicans, who have already come under fire for their willingness to discuss a plan that raises additional tax revenue.

As I've said, no news is good news on a deal that will hurt American families -- and if raising taxes is not on the table, then it's impossible to have an adult conversation about fixing deficits.


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