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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Six senators—three Democrats and three Republicans—hope to finish converting the debt commission's recommendations into legislative language.

From The Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama defended his budget proposal Tuesday against criticism that it was too timid, as a bipartisan group of senators moved on their own to address the long-term spending issues the White House budget ducked.

Mr. Obama said he was confident the political parties would come together to find a bipartisan way to rein in the growth of Social Security and Medicare, and to overhaul the tax code.

But speaking at a news conference, he offered no details about what measures he could support, or about how talks between Republicans and Democrats might come about. He said he expected these matters to be addressed in the coming months.

The president called Medicare and Medicaid the biggest drivers of long-term deficit growth. And he said his bipartisan debt commission's plan "still provides a framework for discussion," even though his budget did not pick up most of its recommendations.

Meantime, the center of gravity for addressing long-term federal budget issues appeared to have moved to the Senate.

The effort is generating broad interest. Earlier this month, about 40 senators attended an 8:30 a.m. meeting on Capitol Hill to discuss comprehensive deficit-reduction legislation, building off the debt commission.

So far, White House officials have offered no assistance, Senate aides said Tuesday. "They're taking a step back and seeing how this shakes out," said one Democratic Senate aide.

Other senators leading the effort were Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Crapo of Idaho and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.

Mr. Obama suggested that people pressing for answers on the big budget questions were impatient. "My goal is to actually solve the problem. It's not to get a good headline on the first day," he said. [Please! Spare us.]

Six senators—three Democrats and three Republicans—hope to finish converting the debt commission's recommendations into legislative language, according to Senate aides and a lawmaker involved with the process.

Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.), one of the group's leaders, said in an interview a framework of the bill will be brought before a group of 25 senators after the Presidents Day recess to decide whether to bring it to the Senate floor for debate or break it into smaller pieces.

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