Now that he’s not joining them, Judd Gregg has made no bones about criticizing the Obama administration.
The New Hampshire senator and formerly almost-commerce-secretary has become one of President Obama’s sharpest and most prominent congressional critics of late, saying this weekend on CNN that “this country will go bankrupt” under Obama’s budget and denouncing the administration’s consideration of rolling big energy and health care policies into the un-filibuster-able budget, telling the Washington Post that that’s the “Chicago approach to governing” (akin to “running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River”).
Gregg cuts a unique path: He stands by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and told CNN’s John King that while he has problems with the budget and stimulus package, when it comes to the administration’s efforts to stabilize the financial system, “I think they’re taking the right course of action.”
In an interview yesterday, Gregg praised Obama on a personal level as a “pretty effective guy” and a “great personality” and gave preliminary kudos to Geithner’s new bailout plan (though he wanted to read the fine print), saying that public guarantees plus private dollars could equal the right formula to get toxic assets off of banks’ books.
Meanwhile, Gregg has also emerged as one of the sharper critics of the effort to impose a supertax on AIG bonuses, calling that “an abuse of the tax laws” (though he says that the bonuses themselves are “despicable” and that more should have been done to rein in American International Group earlier).
The tax-AIG-at-90-percent effort, Gregg said yesterday, “sets a horrific precedent for our nation. This is something Venezuela might do.” He adds: “As a practical matter, the opportunity to discipline this was flubbed by us. The Treasury Department had every opportunity to limit these bonuses,” including making the $30 billion in additional funds released this month contingent on curbing bonuses.
Gregg said President Obama proposes to amass more debt than all other U.S. presidents — combined. Here Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March 23, 2009.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)