Two political “gangs” with the same goal now exist in Congress. The Gang of Six and the Gang of Seven both seek to reach a deficit reduction deal that can gain traction with Democrats and Republicans alike.
With the goal of slashing $4 trillion from the nation’s budget deficit over the next decade, the Gang of Six arose out of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission toward the end of 2010. The older of the two, it is comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans: Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Mike Crapo (R-ID). Four of the six members of the group came from President Obama’s Simpson-Bowles deficit commission. The group recommends spending cuts, overhauling the tax code, and revamping Medicare and Medicaid entitlements.
The bipartisan, bicameral newcomer, the Gang of Seven, was recently called for by President Obama. Led by Vice President Joe Biden, it includes Sens. John Kyl (R-AZ), Max Baucus (D-MT), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and James Clyburn (D-SC). Its first meeting is scheduled for May 5.
Because it is unclear exactly why a second group was formed to tackle the same issue as a preexisting one, the emergence of the Gang of Seven has caused a lot of buzz. According to ABC News, some lawmakers feel that it undermines the work of the earlier-formed gang. That the latter group is comprised of both Senators and Representatives is the only obvious difference between the two. The Christian Science Monitor poses a further observation of the group’s differences:
Unlike the bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators who have been trying to reach an agreement on these very same issues, the newly minted “Gang of Seven,” as some commentators are referring to the new negotiators, represents the starkest partisan views on Capitol Hill: The GOP appointees oppose tax increases, the Democrats oppose cuts to entitlements, especially Social Security.
The article goes on to say that although both groups are unofficial, if either one is able to agree to a plan, they may have the leverage to garner enough support in Congress to pass a budget compromise.