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The big news in the debt/deficit world this week is the departure of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn from the so-called “Gang of Six.”While the Republicans and Democrats squabble along ideological grounds about the debt, the Gang Of Six wanted to come up with an “adult”, “serious” solution that ultimately everyone could get behind.
Coburn ultimately couldn’t abide by any deal that hiked taxes.
It’s not really important that the G6 itself failed. But there is a broader lesson, which is that if a TINY group of Senators, who actively wanted to thwart their own parties and come up with a compromise couldn’t do it, the odds of Obama, Boehner, and the Tea Party agreeing to anything are officially 0%.
And there’s a lesson beyond that, which is that the sorta pain free debt deal that America wants doesn’t exist. As Megan McArdle points out, Americans claim to care a lot about the debt, but are only willing to (maybe) raise taxes on the rich, and engage in scalpel-sized cuts in a few areas, and obviously as anyone who’s looked at debt maths knows, that’s not evening the realm of possibility.
So at best, we’ll spend the entire Congress with a series fo papercuts and stopgap measures until after the election, when there’s a possibility that a single party controlling Congress, can move things in one way or another.
The “serious” middleground championed by beltway pundits doesn’t exist.
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