Lieberman Wants To Start A Bipartisan, High-Income Tax Cuts Gang

September 21, 2010 9:55 am

TPM noted yesterday that, in direct conflict with President Obama’s agenda, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is organizing Senate Democrats and Republicans to temporarily extend Bush tax cuts for high-income Americans.

This afternoon, on his way into a weekly Democratic caucus policy lunch he explained that he’d like to head up another bipartisan “gang” to reach a tax cut compromise.

“All I’m saying now is that this is a place where we really do need — it’s an awful word –but we need another gang. We need a bipartisan gang to come to a bipartisan agreement on tax cuts,” Lieberman said.

I asked Lieberman whether he’s organizing such a bloc. He claims he’s working on it: “I’m talking — as always it’ll be a ‘group’ — but that’s what I’d like to see happen.”These bipartisan ‘gangs’ — or groups, as Senators prefer — have a mixed record of success in recent years. Most famously, in 2005, the so-called “Gang of 14” prevailed in its effort to prevent Senate Republicans (then in the majority) from changing the rules to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominees.

More recently, the 2009 “Gang of Six” Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee failed to reach a bipartisan consensus on health care reform. The group started with seven members — Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) abandoned the effort early — and negotiated for months before disbanding without an agreement. The resulting delays have been widely blamed for imperiling the health care law, and stymieing the Democrats’ legislative agenda.

“I’ve started to talk to people, I don’t know that I have exactly the way to make this happen, but there’s a lot of interest in an extension — among Democrats and of course Republicans — a temporary extension of the [Bush] tax cuts on the higher-income Americans, and a more permanent extension of all the rest,” Lieberman said. “But we’ve got to do something before the end of the year because if we don’t everybody’s taxes go up and that might put the country back into another recession.”

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