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Congress: The Gang of Six

The Sunday New York Times front-paged the work the bipartisan “Gang of Six” is doing in trying to forge a deficit-reduction compromise. “As Mr. Obama and Republican leaders have warred publicly over the budget, this small group of senators has spent four months in dozens of secretive meetings in offices at the Capitol and over dinner at the suburban Virginia home of Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat. The senators have weathered criticism from bloggers and even colleagues, including the leaders of their own parties, who oppose tampering with Social Security or taxes. The gang nearly collapsed several times, including two weeks ago.”

Bloomberg News notes how Tea Party freshmen are heading home to sell their votes in favor of the Ryan budget plan, which -- among other things -- phases out Medicare. The budget fight spotlights the political risk confronting Republicans as Washington intensifies its focus on the long-term government deficits that will shape the country’s economic future and frame next year’s elections. How Republican leaders balance the expectations of Tea Party activists, who’ve pushed for cuts in popular programs including entitlements, with the need to protect vulnerable members in swing districts will define the party in the 2012 elections.

Elizabeth Drew on the Washington budget battle: "The possibility of a bipartisan 'Grand Bargain' has grown dimmer, given the lines that have now been drawn, and the Republicans’ perhaps inevitable hyperbole about the President’s speech, which they denounced as 'partisan' (Heavens!) and a campaign gimmick. They could not entertain the possibility that Obama’s was a serious, thoughtful offering. The House’s adoption Thursday of the deal made between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner last Friday offers a glimmer of a possibility of compromise on much larger issues, but if the past is prologue, they would be compromises essentially on Republican terms.

On Sunday, Speaker John Boehner’s press office announced he was leading a congressional delegation to Iraq.