Party Stalwarts to Join Biden in Crafting Deficit Deal - Some skeptics (including the Cracker Squire) see this effort as a diversion or decoy group.
A high-level group of lawmakers begins meeting next week to craft a deficit-reduction compromise, but its members include unlikely recruits to the mission.
A half-dozen House members and Senators will meet Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden to seek a deficit-cutting deal that could clear the way for an agreement on raising the federal debt limit.
But the six—who were hand-picked by party leaders at the behest of President Barack Obama—include figures who seem resistant to moving off their parties' core positions on taxes and spending. Among them are two of the Republicans' most conservative leaders, two liberal lieutenants to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and two committee chairmen known for guarding their legislative turf.
Some skeptics see the Biden effort as a diversion or decoy group, and say the real decision-making will come in a high-level negotiation similar to those that produced the last two big pieces of fiscal legislation. A sweeping tax deal that included extension of the Bush-era tax cuts was negotiated in secret talks between Mr. Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. A spending-cut deal that avoided a government shutdown in April was hammered out largely by the White House and House Speaker John Boehner.
Mr. Obama convened the Biden group even though another bipartisan set of senators has been meeting for months with a similar mission. That so-called Gang of Six has been holding intensive private meetings to craft a deal based on recommendations of the president's panel, which called for $4 trillion of deficit reductions over 10 years through tax increases, spending cuts and budget-process reforms on a grand scale.