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Conrad, Gregg Endorse Catfood Commission Proposal

Earlier I asked if the Catfood Commission will get a bare majority on the panel. Here’s what we know.

Judd Gregg will vote for the proposal, as will Kent Conrad. Gregg says he doesn’t agree with everything in the plan but he’d accept it as a “step forward.”

This was expected. Remember, initially this commission was the Conrad-Gregg Commission. According to Jackie Calmes, they’ll be joined by Simpson and Bowles, along with Ann Fudge, David Cote and Alice Rivlin. That’s 7 yes votes out of 18. Are there any more?

I think the House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, are no votes. Jan Schakowsky, who came up with her own plan, is also a no. So we’re at 7-4.

What else do we know? Dick Durbin said he’s “studying” the proposal and didn’t have a commitment either way. Durbin did say that raising the retirement age was “acceptable.”

Joining Durbin on the fence is Andy Stern; Senators Max Baucus, Mike Crapo and Tom Coburn; and Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra and John Spratt. To get 14 votes, they’d have to run the table. I’m not sure they get any of them, and could easily see 7 votes total for passage.

As for whether this commission will do more than sit on a shelf after the depressing end on Friday, there’s this from the bipartisan meeting:

On the debt commission, President Obama urged the group to begin discussing what each others’ bottom lines are and to set up a process for implementation of any agreed-upon recommendation.

McConnell said the Debt Commission has issued some serious recommendations, some of which can be possibly used for a jumping off point.

Speaker Pelosi said the issues of Social Security solvency and balancing the budget through revenue and spending cuts should be kept separate.“Don’t raise the Social Security retirement age in order to give a tax cut to the rich,” she said. “Apples, oranges, and bananas don’t mate.”

It is fair to say that not everyone in the room understood the point she was trying to make.

The Vice President, quoting Bob Dole, said that when it came to reducing the debt, “we all need to step in the row boat together.”

You have the President and Vice President clearly wanting to do something, Mitch McConnell wanting to pick and choose, and Pelosi seemingly down on the whole thing.

I think it’s safe to say there’s the makings of a grand bargain here, though it won’t come easy and certainly not in the lame duck session. With the Paul Ryan faction just unwilling to raise taxes at all, basically half this proposal is a dead letter. So it’s going to be another “Republican plan or nothing” option for the Democrats. In this context, Durbin’s comment is dangerous.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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