Can we put a moratorium on Senate ‘gangs’?

CAN WE PUT A MORATORIUM ON SENATE ‘GANGS’?…. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has already begun fighting for extended tax cuts for millionaires. He’s now ready to kick things up a notch — with a new “gang.”

This afternoon, on his way into a weekly Democratic caucus policy lunch he explained that he’d like to head up another bipartisan “gang” to reach a tax cut compromise.

“All I’m saying now is that this is a place where we really do need — it’s an awful word — but we need another gang. We need a bipartisan gang to come to a bipartisan agreement on tax cuts,” Lieberman said.

I asked Lieberman whether he’s organizing such a bloc. He claims he’s working on it: “I’m talking — as always it’ll be a ‘group’ — but that’s what I’d like to see happen.”

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He added that if ’90s-era tax rates return “that might put the country back into another recession.”

A few things. First, can Lieberman offer any evidence — any at all — to suggest higher rates would cause a recession? Because lower rates certainly didn’t produce an economic success story. Besides, Reagan raised taxes in ’82, and the economy improved. Clinton raised taxes in ’93, and the economy improved. I’m not drawing a cause-and-effect connection here, but to assume that higher rates necessarily leads to contraction is silly.

Second, there’s already a “bipartisan agreement on tax cuts” on the table. Some want to allow the lower rates to expire for everyone; some want to the lower rates to be extended for everyone. President Obama has offered a middle ground — permanent, lower rates for the middle class, which enjoys broad, bipartisan support, coupled with on-schedule expiration of lower rates for the wealthy. Lieberman doesn’t have to like it; he doesn’t even have to vote for it. But if he’s looking for a centrist compromise that Americans can embrace, the White House has already offered it.

And third, another “gang”? Seriously? The “Gang of 14” and the “Gang of Six” — both disappointments — weren’t enough?

One of these days, the Senate is going to have to figure out how to function as an institution again, and the over-reliance on gimmicks, workarounds, and procedural abuses will have to end.

Alas, that days is nowhere close.