By Bob Cusack - 05/22/11 11:08 PM EDT
Grover Norquist: The anti-tax advocate had been pressuring Coburn to leave the talks, arguing that Democrats would only agree to a deal if it contained tax increases. Coburn has denied he caved, calling the head of the Americans of Tax Reform (ATR) a “fly on the wall.” He has also continued to say a deficit solution will require something on “revenue,” a phrase that could mean he is open to tax hikes — the very thing Norquist, the keeper of the ATR Taxpayer Protection Pledge — has worked to prevent.
Love him or hate him, Norquist wields a ton of clout. MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell has called Norquist the “most powerful man in America who does not sleep in the White House.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): Senate leaders were never fans of the Gang of Six, which they couldn’t control and which had the possibility of disrupting preparations for the 2012 campaign. The leaders have far more authority in the Biden discussions because they selected who they wanted to participate in the bipartisan negotiations. McConnell, who took a back seat in the government shutdown debate, has taken clear steps to show he will be a major player in the debt-ceiling talks.
Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.); Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.): Their relevance has risen with the elevation of the Biden talks.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the left: Sanders said this week, with some satisfaction, that he was never a fan of the Gang of Six. The independent senators has rallied against any plan to pare back Social Security benefits.
Ryan McConaghy, deputy director of the Economic Program at Third Way, said the winners from the Gang of Six failure "are anybody on the ideological extremes, anybody who did not want to see a compromise."
Sens. James DeMint (R-S.C), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and the right: The right wing was never going to compromise and vote for a Gang of Six package. Conservatives, including Norquist, say a better long-term deal can be struck after the 2012 election. With Democrats having to defend 23 seats and the GOP 10, many Republicans believe they will control the House and Senate in 2013. They are not as bullish, however, on winning the White House.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): The Ryan budget is the most solidly fleshed out budget proposal out there. The Gang of Six compromise could have eclipsed it — however, the Ryan plan has split the GOP and faces a big test in Tuesday’s special election contest in New York’s 26th district.