“Gang of Six”

“Gang Of Six” Becomes “Gang Of Eight” On Immigration Reform

As a new immigration reform plan is unveiled by Senators, the “Gang of Six” described yesterday in a blog entry has now become a “Gang of Eight”.

Joining the group, which had included John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, Charles Schumer of New York, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Dick Durbin of Florida are Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.

President Obama is to speak about this issue in Nevada on Tuesday, and it seems as if, finally, there may be a move toward real action on an issue that has been highly divisive, including a failure to get a McCain-Ted Kennedy bill through Congress in 2007 under President George W. Bush, who had pushed for it, but failed to see it succeed. Let us hope for quick action!

The “Gang Of Six” And Immigration Reform Moving Ahead

President Barack Obama has made immigration reform one of the major goals of his second term in the Presidency, and now, after much resistance for years by the majority of Republicans, suddenly we have a “Gang of Six” US Senators who are cooperatively working together toward that goal, making the likelihood of such reform much more likely.

The members of the “Gang of Six” are:

Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Dick Durbin of Illinois

Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

This group includes Senators from key states that have growing Latino population—New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Arizona and South Carolina.

it includes two leading Hispanic Senators, both Cuban—Menendez and Rubio.

It includes two Democratic leaders, the number 2 and number 3 in the leadership—Durbin and Schumer.

It includes former Republican Presidential candidate McCain, and his good friend, Graham.

If any combination of Democrats and Republicans can accomplish the goal of recognition of the need for a reasonable immigration reform, rather than the anti immigrant view of Mitt Romney during the Presidential campaign of 2012, it is this group of US Senators!

Can The “Gang Of Six” In The Senate Promote A Solution To National Debt Crisis?

In the midst of the national debt crisis, and the issue of the extension of the debt limit just around the corner, six US Senators, three Democrats and three Republicans, have been meeting for months trying to come up with a plan that can be accepted by both parties, and show the American people that the politicians in Washington can work together on an issue that is threatening the short term and long term stability of the economy.

The Democrats are Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, and Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota. The Republicans are Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and Senator Michael Crapo of Idaho.

No matter what these six Senators come up with, it could fail in the Republican controlled House of Representatives, if the extremist Tea Party people refuse to budge on tax reform or tax increases on the wealthy and corporations, even by getting rid of tax loopholes and tax breaks.

It is clear there will have to be not only tax increases, as well as cuts in military spending, but also reforms of Medicare and Medicaid that will not destroy the system but modify it, and long range planning to change the full Social Security age and tax all income on Social Security, instead of the limit on contributions now in the law.

This is a time for politicians to do what needs to be done, without fear of losing their seats in future elections, and to take the philosophical view that they would rather do what is proper and sensible to do, than to bend to extremists who have no understanding of the need for change, and only want to promote their one sided, impractical, and dangerous views of the future of the nation, despite the realities of the urgency of action!

The Senate Finance Committee “Gang Of Six” And Health Care Legislation

I am a big lover of the US Senate and am the author of a book on senators during the New Deal, many of whom came from small Midwestern and Western states, so I understand fully how much senators from small states can have an impact.

Therefore, I am particularly interested in the reality that six senators from small states –three Democrats (Max Baucus of Montana, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Kent Conrad of North Dakota) and three Republicans (Charles Grassley of Iowa, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Olympia Snowe of Maine) are the major figures involved in blocking major health care reform, including a public option. As members of the Senate Finance Committee, they have made it clear that they do not wish to go as far on health care as the various committees in the House of Representatives.

The problem is these six senators together represent a population about the size of New York City (8.4 million people) and 2.75 percent of the total population of the nation. But they will have a major impact on health care reform and have a good chance to prevent major changes.

The three Democrats in particular represent states which only have ONE Congressman per state, and it seems to many that this whole situation is outrageous, and that the Senate is undemocratic in nature and should be changed.

But of course, there is no way that the Senate can be changed. The only major reform has been the 17th Amendment, which led to direct popular election of the Senate beginning in 1913. But the Founding Fathers did not set up the Senate to be a democratic body. Rather, it was set up as a barrier to “popular” rule and has long acted as a brake on the House of Representatives.

The Senate is a slow moving, slow adapting body, and often that is good, as it has prevented many unwise ideas passed by the House, including many crazy ideas for constitutional amendments.

In this case, the fight for health care reform, however, the Senate is becoming the bottleneck, and is giving too much power to a handful of Senators, who, were they in the House of Representatives, would have no attention given to them and would would wield no power at all.

Such is the makeup of our government, as established by the Founding Fathers, and there is nothing we can do about it!