Gang of Six Plan Brings Hope Washington Could Still Rescue America

It is hard not to be excited by the news of the Gang of Six's resurrection. Their $3.7 trillion plan to reduce the budget deficit over 10 years coupled with lowering tax rates, eliminating loopholes, and ultimately raising $1 trillion in new revenue meets the broad outlines of the Bowles-Simpson Plan that was unveiled last December, and addresses most, if not all, the central concerns of centrist Democrats like myself.

By linking the debt ceiling increase to a broad plan to overhaul our nations finances, the Gang of Six has gone a long way to restoring hope that a bipartisan solution to our current fiscal crisis can be successfully implemented.

Still there are concerns.

First there are the practical ones. So far, the House Republicans have been extremely cautious and tentative in embracing it, and President Obama's public support of the initiative, while smart politics for him, may not ultimately have served the cause of producing compromise all that well.

At the same time, with poll after poll showing the Republicans being too intransigent and voters supporting tax increases that must be a necessary part of the mix to balance the budget, it is hard for me and I suspect other centrists not to endorse the broad outlines of the deal that appears to have won at least tentative support from at least half the Senate.

However, the devil is in the details.

Specifically, we need to know what spending cuts have been embraced by the Gang of Six; how the $500 billion in health care cuts will be achieved; what discretionary domestic programs will be cut; as well as what defense initiatives will be paired back; and specifically where and how revenue will be raised.

The new Wall Street Journal poll/NBC News released Wednesday finds ongoing, deep seeded doubt among Americans about cutting Medicare and Social Security.

To that end I would be concerned if programs like Medicare part D were eliminated or cut back, and I worry that health care decisions might be turned over to an unelected board (IPAB) as was initially proposed and ratified by Bowles-Simpson.

But that being said, the Cut Cap and Balance proposal that the Republicans passed through a largely party line vote through the House last night is clearly DOA and nothing could make me happier than having the close to 50 senators from both parties appear to embrace the newly reconstituted Gang of Six proposal to balance the budget as well as raise the debt ceiling.

The fact that we are now seeing broad based bipartisanship and a willingness to embrace both significant expenditure cuts, tax reform and entitlement reform suggests that there is still the possibility of achieving something big and important as part of the ongoing debate over raising the debt ceiling.

We just don't have that much time and we can't afford to make mistakes. Literally.

Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.