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Blogs / Leadership

The Gang of Eight's Slim Chances of Success

October 19, 2012
While the Gang of Eight plugs away at solving the fiscal crisis, almost no congressional insiders think the group will come up with the plan that gets through Congress and is signed by the president. 

That's the upshot of the latest report from our colleagues in this week's National Journal magazine.  Dan Friedman and Stacy Kaper explain. 

Although the gang's explicit purpose is to craft a plan to cut $4 trillion from the deficit over 10 years by trimming entitlement spending and eliminating tax deductions as overall rates fall, its main value may be in nudging Congress toward a bipartisan effort. The gang, in fact, is dialing back talk of releasing legislation. It could, instead, create political cover for other lawmakers to consider some politically difficult options.


With Congress as divided as it has been in a century, partisanship is unpopular because it's blamed as the cause of the dysfunction. The gang is popular because it is seen as an antidote to that partisan dysfunction. That's why various Senate hopefuls running as moderates willing to work across the aisle claim interest in joining the group. It advertises the idea that the obstacle to good governance is process, not politics--that if lawmakers from both parties just talk together, they can fix things.

The problem with this concept is that the parties are hampered less by failure to communicate than by real disagreement over how to reduce spending and increase revenue.

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