Sen. Judd Gregg Is Not Serious About the Debt

If you want some real talk on the deficit and Washington's harlequin act to fix it, please listen to Daniel Indiviglio. If you want to hear politicians croon utter nonsense about the debt with their fingers crossed behind their backs, please listen to Sen. Judd Gregg.


Republican commission advocates remain skeptical that a presidentially appointed panel would have the clout to tackle the nation's toughest fiscal problems. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), a sponsor with Conrad of legislation to create a budget commission by law, called a presidentially appointed panel "a fraud" designed to do little more than give Democrats political cover.

"It's a fraud among anyone interested in fiscal responsibility to claim an executive order could structure something that would actually lead to action," Gregg said.

This is rich, hypocritical stuff.

In Gregg's budget commission, a debt reduction bill would require super-majorities to pass in the House and Senate. That's strange, because super-majorities are scarce in Congress and non-existent for bills that deal with tax increases and entitlement reforms -- both of which are necessary parts of any serious deficit reduction plan. Oh wait ... that's exactly the point! Gregg rigged his budget commission to fail so he can grab credit for proposing deficit reduction without actually having any unpopular deficit reduction ideas pegged to his reputation. And this guy has the audacity to use the word "fraud."

I don't necessarily trust the White House panel to accomplish any more than Gregg's ploy to play deficit doctor. I'm pretty down on serious deficit fighting in general because Democrats won't propose service cuts in election years and Republican aren't likely to support tax hikes in any year that, well, begins with the month of January. It seems to me that the only difference between the panels is that Gregg doesn't get any credit for the empty gimmick if the White House picks all the panelists.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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