With the president praising their plan, and with critics from both sides of the political aisle taking shots at it, the "Gang of Six" is this week at the center of the deficit-reduction talks in Washington.
Two senators from the gang told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep today that one reason they've been able to agree on the outlines of package that they say would trim about $4 trillion from budget deficits over the next decade is that they took the time over the past year to understand each other's positions.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said he now better understands why his Republican colleagues feel as if they got burned in past deals by agreeing to tax increases in exchange for promises of spending cuts — only to never see those cuts happen. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said he now better understands the strong support among Democrats for some things — such as the earned income tax credit — that he doesn't favor.
And in the end, the senators said, they believe the Gang of Six has shown that there can be bipartisanship in Washington and that some lawmakers understand what he says the American people "get" — that solving the deficit and debt problems requires compromise and sacrifice.
Here's some audio from Warner and Chambliss conversation, starting with Warner. Much more is scheduled to be on Friday's Morning Edition. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show.
Senators Warner and Chambliss
The gang's other four members:
— Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
— Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND).
— Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID).
— Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).