GOP senator upbraids colleagues
Gregg hits $45b tax-cut package
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff | December 9, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire yesterday used his
last major floor speech as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee to
blast his own party's leadership in Congress, accusing Republican
leaders of engaging in the type of fiscal recklessness that he said
led voters to oust the GOP from power.
Gregg, who will give up the Budget Committee gavel when his party
relinquishes control of Congress in January, issued his unusually
harsh critique in reference to a sweeping tax-cut bill that
Republicans were rushing through in the final hours of the
"The American people took the reins of government away from the
Republican Party relative to the Republican Congress in this last
election," Gregg said in a speech on the Senate floor. "They did so, I
think, in large part because they were tired of our hypocrisy as a
party on the issue of fiscal responsibility. And it would appear that
their concerns are justified. It is true, I guess."
Gregg went on to say that Democrats will also probably be
irresponsible stewards of the nation's finances, "but at least they
won't be hypocritical about it."
"You just have to ask yourself how we, as a party, got to this point,
where we have a leadership which is going to ram down the throats of
our party the biggest budget-buster in the history of the Congress
under Republican leadership. Well, anyway, the American people figured
it out, and I'm sorry we haven't figured it out yet."
Gregg's comments came a month after his home state's voters registered
their own dissatisfaction with the Republican Party in an
unprecedented statewide sweep for Democrats. Both incumbent US House
members were defeated by Democratic challengers, and Granite State
residents gave Democrats control of both houses of the Legislature for
the first time since 1874.
That election has vaulted Gregg and his Senate colleague, John E.
Sununu, onto lists of potentially vulnerable Republicans. Gregg is up
for reelection in 2010 and Sununu in 2008.
Kathy Sullivan, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said
it is convenient that Gregg has woken up to the need for fiscal sanity
in Washington only after his state's voters sent such a strong
anti-Republican message. The timing suggests that Gregg is more
concerned about keeping his own job than he is about controlling the
budget deficit, she said.
"He's mad about it? Well guess what? We're a lot more mad about it
than he is," Sullivan said. "After six years [of the Bush
administration], Judd Gregg discovers fiscal responsibility, when he's
one of the most senior Republican senators. He could have spoken out a
Gregg did not return calls seeking comment after his speech. He was
angered by the $45 billion package of tax cuts that was prepared by
Republican leaders in the closing hours of the congressional session.
Marbled into the bill's 500 pages were extensions of the popular
research and development and student loan tax deductions, a provision
allowing taxpayers to deduct sales taxes from their federal taxes if
they live in states that do not have income taxes, and a laundry list
of special-interest tax cuts.
"This bill has so much in it for so many different little folks and
issues around here that they've racked up the vote count to the point
where they can accomplish this," Gregg said.
Gregg appeared to be right: The package passed the House, 367 to 45,
and the Senate was on track to approve the bill before leaving