Nov. 27, 2012 - By JOHN T. BENNETT Defense News
A high-profile bipartisan group of U.S. senators will not release its deficit-reduction plan as the White House and congressional leaders try to avoid fiscal chaos and deep Pentagon spending cuts.
Asked Nov. 27 by Defense News whether the “Gang of Six” plans to make public the fruits of its labor, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., replied “no” before entering an elevator in the Capitol.
Many eyes in Washington and on Wall Street have been trained on the group, seen by many as an indicator of whether Republicans and Democrats can find enough common ground on taxes, domestic entitlement programs, defense spending and federal spending cuts to pass a sweeping deficit-paring bill.
Unless Congress and President Barack Obama agree to a bill that shrinks the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion, twin $500 billion cuts to planned defense and domestic spending will kick in Jan. 2.
Sources and lawmakers expect Congress will send the president a bill later this month with some tax cut-extending language and provisions that would delay the planned spending cuts for a few months. That would buy the negotiators time to take on complex issues such as federal tax reform.
The “gang” consists of three upper chamber lawmakers from both parties who have been quietly working on a deficit-reduction plan.
A book released recently by journalist Bob Woodward depicts the 2011 release of a deficit-cutting report by a similar Senate “gang” as playing a major role in scuttling an alleged agreement between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on a comprehensive debt deal.
Chambliss said he has a “disagreement” with how some have described how those 2011 talks played out.