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‘Gang of Five’ to Present Deficit Plan to Senators

The five remaining members of the “gang of six” Senators will present their deficit reduction plan to about 50 colleagues Tuesday morning, Budget Chairman Kent Conrad said Monday.

“We felt an obligation to go back to those Senators who asked us to see what we could do, and we’re going to show them,” the North Dakota Democrat said. “We’re going to say to them, is this something you could support?”

But the group doesn’t have any plans to make its work public yet, Conrad said.

Its plan would cut about $3.7 trillion from the deficit over the next decade, a bit more than the one proposed by the chairmen of the president’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and would establish “creative” enforcement mechanisms, he said.

“I think when people see some really unusual, creative thinking about how you enforce things around here … this proposal goes way beyond anything I’ve ever seen before,” he added.

Conrad expects a two-step process: a down payment up front followed by a larger package this year.

“You can’t reform the tax code in two weeks,” he said.

He didn’t know whether he would be named to a joint committee being proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to craft a deficit reduction package. “That’s not a decision I’ll make,” Conrad said.

He said he does not support the $9 trillion spending reduction plan presented Monday by Sen. Tom Coburn, who withdrew from the gang of six in May, saying the Oklahoma Republican’s cuts were more draconian than necessary to balance the budget.

Besides Conrad, the remaining members of the group are Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

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