SPONSORED:

‘Gang of Six’ talks could affect deal on long-term budget

‘Gang of Six’ talks could affect deal on long-term budget

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad is holding back the Senate Democrats’ budget plan to give a bipartisan group of senators more time to strike a deal on a long-term deficit-reduction proposal. 

Conrad (D-N.D.) is one of the “Gang of Six” negotiators working on a budget deal based on the recommendations of President Obama’s debt commission. The group hopes to put the debt commission’s proposals into legislation that could win a vote from Congress. 

ADVERTISEMENT

If the group fails to reach a deal, Conrad said he might include portions of its work in his budget proposal.

“I’ve prepared several different budget resolutions,” Conrad said. “I’m trying to give the Group of Six effort every chance.”

Conrad said he has not made a final decision on whether to use the Senate Democratic budget proposal to advance the recommendations of the fiscal commission. 

Conrad made clear on Tuesday, however, that he would not advance Medicare overhaul such as that proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Wis.) or former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Alice Rivlin, a former Democratic White House budget director.

“I don’t think that’s the way to go,” he said. “That really breaks the contract with people who have paid in for years. It is in effect a voucher system, but it’s a voucher for insurance companies.”

The six senators are sticking to the framework of President Obama’s debt commission and are focused on more modest reforms than those proposed Tuesday by House Republicans. 

For example, the group is looking at changes to the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program. Repealing the community living assistance portion of the 2010 healthcare reform law would cost $76 billion over the next nine years but save money over the longer term.


The bipartisan negotiators are also looking a discretionary spending cuts — including defense cuts — and tax reform that would wipe out many niche tax breaks and lower the broad income rates.

Conrad panned the budget proposal unveiled Tuesday by Ryan as “draconian,” dismissing the Republican’s call to convert Medicare into a premium support program as a giveaway to insurance companies. Under the proposal, the government would pay a fixed amount to insurance companies to cover beneficiaries

“I think that it completely lacks balance,” Conrad said of Ryan’s plan. “He has dramatic cuts in taxes for the wealthiest among us, and finances that by draconian cuts to those of us who are dependent on Medicaid and Medicare.”

The “Gang of Six” also includes Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Democrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  MORE (D-Ill.) and Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Big Tech hearing the most partisan yet | Rubio warns about foreign election interference | Trump campaign site briefly hacked Rubio warns that election interference may ramp up around Election Day Senate Intel leadership urges American vigilance amid foreign election interference MORE (D-Va.), Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnDemocrats step up hardball tactics in Supreme Court fight COVID response shows a way forward on private gun sale checks Inspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 MORE (R-Okla.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoBarrett says she did not strike down ObamaCare in moot court case GOP Sen. Thom Tillis tests positive for coronavirus 22 GOP attorneys general urge Congress to confirm Barrett as Supreme Court justice MORE (R-Idaho) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying world GOP lobbyist tapped for White House legislative affairs The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks MORE (R-Ga.).