Tom Coburn got the old gang back together yesterday—the “Gang of Six” that is—reviving hopes that the Senate could forge a major debt reduction deal. “I’m back,” Coburn declared before a crowd of almost 50 senators from both parties, to a resounding round of applause. Coburn’s return was absolutely crucial, Politico notes in a look behind the scenes, because the gang’s two other Republicans—Mike Crapo and Saxby Chambliss—wouldn’t have signed off on a deal without him.
Coburn dramatically left the group in May, but kept discussing it with Chambliss, a close friend. Coburn is also close with President Obama, who immediately endorsed the gang’s plan for $3.7 trillion in debt reductions. The plan calls for broad spending cuts—including to Medicare and Social Security—alongside $1 trillion in new revenues from a tax code overhaul. Coburn, Crapo, and Chambliss held a closed-door Q&A with fellow Republicans yesterday, prompting a few to publicly declare their support.