Members of the "Gang of Six," the bipartisan group of senators who have spent the last few months hammering out a comprehensive budget plan based on the Simpson-Bowles commission, are under new scrutiny after reports that President Obama might endorse the deficit panel's findings in his speech tomorrow.
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Many commentators on the left have expressed serious concerns such a move would be politically disastrous and undermine Democratic morale heading into battle against a far-reaching House GOP budget proposal that would privatize and drastically cut Medicare. Asked about the issue, Democratic members of the 'Gang of Six' were sensitive to any suggestions that their proposal -- or Obama's -- could be confused with Paul Ryan's "draconian" plan.
"Anything that [Obama] would propose would be dramatically different from the really draconian proposals of Mr. Ryan," Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, told reporters. "Mr. Ryan, the first thing he does is cut taxes by well over a trillion dollars for the wealthiest among us, so he digs the hole deeper which means his cuts have to be far more draconian."
Asked by a reporter whether wading into Medicare cuts could divide Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) also pushed back against comparison to Ryan.
"I can say with certainty there will be a clear difference between Paul Ryan and Barack Obama on Medicare," he said.