Gang of Six collapse: Winners and losers: Page 4 of 4

Mixed Outcome

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), ex-Gang of Six member: By walking away, Coburn repaired his standing with conservatives. Tripp Baird of Heritage Action said Coburn comes out great because he has exposed liberals as being bent on bankrupting Medicare. But Neera Tanden, of the liberal Center for American Progress, said that only by staying at the table did Coburn and fellow conservatives have any hope of getting their ideas enacted by President Obama’s pen.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Gang of Six member: Durbin has been hammered by liberals for signing onto the White House's fiscal commission report, which called for cuts to Medicare and Social Security. By standing up to Coburn forcefully in the talks, especially on Medicare, Durbin repairs his standing with the Democratic base. On the other hand, like other Gang members, the failure of an effort that could have put a significant Durbin stamp on a deficit package does cost him. Baird said that conservatives can now more easily criticize Durbin and other liberals for being unwilling to touch entitlement spending.

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President Obama: With the action moved to the Biden talks, the White House can direct the deficit conversation and will not be hit by a Gang of Six Social Security plan, which would have forced a difficult choice between backing compromise and sticking with the left. However, the White House had back-channel communications with the Gang of Six and, depending on what it came up with, could have come out solidly behind their plan, liberal sources said. Such a proposal, embraced by Obama, had the tantalizing possibility of removing spending as a 2012 campaign issue and could have taken away a key GOP uniting message, Bixby said. 

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio): Like Ryan, Boehner benefits from the Gang of Six failure by continuing to stand up for a House-passed budget that is popular with conservatives. By the same token, defending the plan could hurt because its proposed cuts to Medicare have given Democrats hope of winning back the House. A Gang of Six compromise could have allowed the Ryan plan to fade away. Additionally, Boehner has placed huge stakes on getting an acceptable amount of spending cuts from the Biden talks in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. 

The final deal on the fiscal 2011 budget disappointed many freshmen. Unable, in the end, to shoot the hostage and allow the U.S. to default, Boehner will have to compromise again. A Gang of Six solution, had it contained enough on entitlements and long-term spending to please freshmen, could have ended the debt-ceiling controversy.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): Pelosi initially called the fiscal commission’s plan “simply unacceptable.” In the short term at least, Pelosi benefits from the Gang’s collapse. However, it remains to be seen what kind of deal will emerge from the Biden talks and how relevant Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues will be in those discussions. Pelosi was not in the room when the fiscal 2011 budget deal was struck, and subsequently voted against it. A similar outcome could occur in the debt-ceiling debate.

Click below to see how the participants fared:
WINNERS | LOSERS | MIXED OUTCOME

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