Editorial: From Gregg, a welcome plea for GOP sanity
Here’s something you don’t read in this space every day: Judd Gregg is right.
Gregg is angry and frustrated, and he’s right.
In a column published this week in The Hill, a Washington, D.C., publication covering the capital, Gregg, a former U.S. senator, congressman and New Hampshire governor, rips into members of his own party for tying a vote on raising the nation’s debt limit to defunding the Affordable Care Act. If the Democrats won’t agree to undo Obamacare, the Republicans say they’ll risk defaulting on the country’s debts.
“Most Americans these days are simply ignoring Republicans. And they should. The self-promotional babble of a few has become the mainstream of Republican political thought. It has marginalized the influence of the party to an appalling degree,” Gregg writes.
He goes on to argue that the GOP strategy will ultimately be not just unpopular with voters but also a calamitous path for the country.
“Defaulting on the nation’s obligations, which is the alternative to not increasing the debt ceiling, is not an option either substantively or politically. A default would lead to some level of chaos in the debt markets, which would lead to a significant contraction in economic activity, which would lead to job losses, which would lead to higher spending by the federal government and lower tax revenues, which would lead to more debt. It understates things to say merely this is not a smart position to put forward. It is a terrible policy that would produce immense economic disruption and very difficult times for people on Main Street,” Gregg says.
And Gregg’s view of the politicians promoting this strategy is not kind: “The idea is being put forward by people who do not really care what the impact is of a default or a near-default. These are folks who have never governed and are not inclined to do so. Rather, their goals are improved fundraising and, in some cases, individual advancement. They have hit on an issue that plays well on the stump, producing numerous effective one-liners.”
Now, Gregg is no fan of Obamacare. His ideas for improving the health-care system are not necessarily ideas we’d agree with. But his main point – that congressional Republicans, including once-mainstream leaders now beholden to the Tea Party crowd, are taking a disastrous course – is right on.
There are enormous problems facing the country. Even several years into an economic recovery, unemployment remains stubbornly high. The “middle-class” lifestyle seems at risk, even for people with jobs that once provided decent pay and decent benefits. More and more wealth is concentrated in the hands of the very few. There is scant talk anymore about the harmful “sequester” or serious entitlement reform. Yet the main message we hear from Washington Republicans is that they’d like to cripple a program intended to provide health insurance for those without – even if it means crippling the economy in the process.
It’s just possible that, coming from Gregg, a plea for sanity from the Republicans in Congress might be listened to. It certainly should be. But who knows? So far, the GOP’s kamikaze mission shows no signs of stopping.