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Congress: Back to business as usual

"Whatever sense of unity the nation might have felt after the killing of Osama bin Laden, it did not extend to the pressing domestic policy issues that divide Congressional Republicans and Democrats, who returned to work in earnest Tuesday," the New York Times writes. "Lawmakers were quickly back to arguing over economic and health care policy, trading blame for high gasoline prices and positioning themselves for the fight over raising the federal debt limit. The Senate found itself at multiple impasses over a small-business bill and judicial confirmations."

Kent Conrad (D-ND) says there will be a plan coming soon, but it might be the Gang of Six’s. He “said the plan calls for a complete overhaul of the tax code -- stripping numerous tax write-offs while lowering income tax rates -- but would leave Social Security untouched. The overhaul would boost overall taxes by about $1 trillion over the coming decade,” AP writes.

Roll Call writes, “The much-hyped ‘gang of six’ is on the verge of being left behind. Democratic and Republican leaders have never been overly enthusiastic about the bipartisan group and have already started looking for other ways to cut a deal on the budget and raising the debt limit. And with the group still unable to reach an agreement despite months of negotiations, Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad said Tuesday he is prepared to go forward in his committee with a budget blueprint of his own as soon as next week. … Conrad said the group’s talks haven’t yet produced a deal, although he still hopes they will. In the meantime, he’s obligated as Budget chairman to move forward anyway. ‘I’m running out of time,’ Conrad said.”