Is There Still a Chance for Meaningful Compromise on Debt Reduction?

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President Obama today. Photo: Mandel NGan/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, civility had eroded so far between Republicans and Democrats that President Obama walked out of a negotiation in a pique. But suddenly, an actual bi-partisan compromise seems possible again: Obama has come out in support of a compromise deal brokered by the bi-partisan "Gang of Six" senators. That six, as opposed to five, is crucial to the chances of compromise — the group now has Republican Tom Coburn back among their number, after he'd abandoned the cabal a few months ago, saying it didn't include enough spending cuts.

The deal isn't such a far bend for the president, though; the plan — a mix of spending cuts, including some to Social Security and Medicare, as well as new tax-based revenue, a little something for everyone — is based off one that emerged from an Obama administration fiscal commission. But the fact that 47 senators, nearly half of whom are Republicans, turned out for the Gang of Six's presentation, might mean that the plan has a real chance, according to the Times.

The key question, then, is whether hardline House conservatives will actually vote for such a deal. Obama, despite — or perhaps in service of — the spirit of bi-partisan compromise, took a pointed swipe at the lower chamber in his remarks. "We do not have any more time to engage in symbolic gestures," he said, a clear reference to the vote today in the House on the fiscal conservative-purist plan, "Cut, Cap, and Balance," which pretty much everyone agrees doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of making it into law. Meanwhile, Senators Reid and McConnell remain hard at work at their separate plan to raise the debt ceiling, and no one knows exactly what John Boehner's going to do, though one of his closest buddies, with whom he's in "almost daily contact" happens to be one of the Gang of Six. Cliques, secrets, shifting alliances, catty public snarking, status based on the number of people who show up at an event — one doesn't need to have special fiscal expertise to follow this story, just to have at one time been a seventh-grade girl.

Obama Endorses Bipartisan Push on Debt [NYT]