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Rewriting History on That Deficit Task Force

Here’s how history gets rewritten: Last week, the Senate killed legislation to create a bipartisan panel designed to tackle the country’s skyrocketing debt. President Obama endorsed it — as did many conservative Republicans — but it failed after six GOP co-sponsors and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a one-time fan, bailed at the last moment, evidently more intent on preventing an Obama victory than on enacting the bill McConnell once called “the best way to address the [budget] crisis.” (The vote was 53 to 46. If those seven Republicans had supported the proposal, it would have passed.)

No matter. Today, during a Senate Budget Committee hearing, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) implied that the failure of the deficit task force bill was somehow Obama’s. Grilling Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, Alexander wondered what “problems” prevented the bill’s success the first time through.

You might want to consider a suggestion about bringing [the Conrad-Gregg proposal] up again, amending it, and finding out what the problems are. It had 16 Republican votes. If the president with 59 or 60 votes can’t pass something that’s important to him, it’s going to be a long four years. So that’s a good start and maybe there are some adjustments that could be made in the statutory commission.

Or maybe there are some adjustments that could be made in the Republican strategy of blocking everything the White House supports, just for the opportunity to call the president ineffective.

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