Washington (CNN) – A respected Republican senator said Tuesday that the Obama administration and the Democratically-controlled Congress are taking the country too far in a liberal direction. And retiring New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg said his party is justified in opposing Democratic measures because the American public is fundamentally “center-right” in its political orientation.
Earlier in the day, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Republicans will do themselves a disservice in this midterm election year by simply embracing “the party of no” label placed on the GOP by Democrats. If Republicans succeed in retaking both chambers of Congress, their agenda once in charge “can't just be yelling no,” Gingrich said.
In an interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, Gregg was asked whether the GOP says “no” too much lately.
“Well, we do and we need to when we’re confronting things that are very bad for our country – either fiscally or from a standpoint of policy,” Gregg, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said on CNN’s John King, USA.
“You’ve got a government now that’s moving to the left,” Gregg said.
The Republican employed a football metaphor to explain his view of where national Democrats stand right now on the political spectrum.
“All American politics is historically played between the 40-yard lines,” he told King. But, with control of both the White House and Congress, Democrats have gone down “to the 20-yard line or the 15-yard line on the left.”
Gregg added, Americans are “center-right people. They want government but they don’t want it to be excessive. They want it to be affordable.”
The Republican, who has been sounding an alarm for the last year about the possible adverse impacts of the increasing amount of national debt, said Americans are concerned that the country will be less prosperous in the future because of the debt which Gregg said is being used to finance the expansion of the federal government.
Notwithstanding his criticism of Democrats, Gregg, who also sits on the Senate Banking Committee, said both parties need to work together to craft a package of financial regulatory changes.
“We need to do this in a bipartisan way,” Gregg said of Wall Street reform. “This is extremely complex stuff. There really aren’t a whole lot of partisan issues in this mix. But there’s a lot of big issues.”
Gregg said dealing with financial institutions who have become “too big to fail,” is key to changing how Washington regulates Wall Street’s giants. He faulted the Democratic bill soon to come before the full Senate for how it deals with large institutions that are all but collapsed.
“The markets can’t have a concept that somebody can exist even though they’re financially insolvent,” he told King. “That undermines, basically, the efficient use of capital. You do not want that to happen. We have to end ‘too big to fail.’”
Amidst his criticism of Democrats for being too liberal, King reminded Gregg that the Republican lawmaker had almost joined the Obama administration as the commerce secretary.
Gregg snuck in a quick response: “Yes I did; that was my mistake.”
Gregg, who is not running for re-election in November, was announced as the White House pick to lead the Commerce Department but then withdrew because he realized he had ideological differences with President Obama on some issues.