In their pathetic need to find "balance" in what is an inherently conservative framework, they end up with the tried and true false narrative of there actually being a "left" of center on the committee.
Let's just start with Politico, for the heck of it.
Maybe we try the paper of record for some less off the cuff analysis. Here's what the New York Times Robert Pear has to say.
If a deal is to be struck in the middle, it is likely to involve Mr. Portman, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and perhaps Senator Max Baucus of Montana, Congressional aides said.
Ah, the "middle." If Kerry and Baucus decide to capitulate to Portman's no taxes pledge, and maybe toss in raising the retirement age for Social Security and eligibility age for Medicare, they'll have met in the "middle." Can we just look seriously at the voting records of these men? Kerry and Baucus are the middle. They're already there. If they move in any direction toward Portman, it won't be "middle" in any realistic sense of the word. It'll be pretty solidly right.
Then there's this. Pat Toomey is reasonable because he said "he had voted to eliminate ethanol subsidies and added: 'If we tackle tax policy, and I hope we will, the goal should be to broaden the base and lower rates so we can create an environment that’s more conducive to economic growth. That will also generate more revenue. A stronger economy always does.'" Yes, the Club for Growth president is reasonable. I guess compared to the teabaggers, the Club for Growth is what passes for reasonable nowadays.
Finally, since I had to read it, I'll make you. The AP's Alan Fram.
"I'm nervous that the far left and the far right are in here, and I don't see them being the ones" likeliest to strike a compromise, said G. William Hoagland, a former top GOP Senate aide who now lobbies for Cigna Corp.
Patty Murray, Max Baucus and John Kerry are the far left. And he went to Cigna for the quote!
While Baucus, Portman and Upton are widely viewed as among the more pragmatic lawmakers picked for the panel, critics said it was hard to imagine them abandoning their parties on such a high-profile issue. Hensarling and Toomey are considered two of Congress' most conservative members and the least likely to budge on tax increases. Kerry is a liberal who seems unlikely to consent to benefit cuts, while Kyl, Murray and Hensarling are party leaders in their chambers.
Portman, Bush's budget director who engineered the Bush tax cuts when he was in Congress, voted for them. That was pragmatic for Bush, I guess. Baucus qualifies because he was willing to drop the single-most effective idea for actually bringing down the nation's health care costs in crafting the health insurance reform bill. That could be called politically pragmatic, but it sure didn't make much real pragmatic sense when it comes to policy. And, once again, that flaming liberal John Kerry. Sigh.
There was this, too, for a bit of a reality check for the NYT.
Toomey, the only member of the panel so far who voted against the bipartisan bill that established the debt-cutting committee, told reporters that while all big benefit programs should be considered for savings, "I'm not interested in some kind of big tax increase."
Let's leave it on a high note, with a completely gratuitous non sequitur from Alan Simpson. "'There's going to be wailing and gnashing of teeth,' said former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., who co-chaired a bipartisan deficit commission that recommended trillions of dollars in savings last year." Because what would a vacuous analysis of politics be without the razor-sharp wit of Alan Simpson?