On Tuesday, aides apparently leaked a report that Sen. Max Baucus (D) of Montana, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, had proposed $3 trillion in deficit reduction, including at least $1 trillion in tax hikes – a nonstarter for Republicans. Republicans reportedly responded with calls for more of the burden of debt reduction to come from entitlement cuts, a nonstarter for Democrats.
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The letter could reestablish the fraying sense of trust.
“We want to make the committee believe that there are people on both sides of the aisle supportive of their efforts and to show the American people that, though there are some difficulties, the Congress is not completely broken,” says nine-term Rep. Steve LaTourette (R) of Ohio.
Such bipartisan groups, a.k.a. “gangs,” are common in the Senate, especially at times of institutional crisis, but have been rare in the House, where House rules and party leaders hold stronger sway.