October 18th, 2009
03:08 PM ET
13 years ago

Gregg: U.S. could be on path to a 'banana republic' situation

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A leading fiscal mind on Capitol Hill and a one-time Obama Cabinet pick sounded the alarm Sunday over the projected long-term financial challenges the country faces.

“This deficit is driven by us,” New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg candidly said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union when asked about the federal government’s projected $1.42 trillion operating deficit for the 2009 fiscal year.

“You talk about systemic risk. The systemic risk today is the Congress of the United States,“ the Ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “that we’re creating these massive debts which we’re passing on to our children. We’re going to undermine fundamentally the quality of life for our children by doing this.”

“Now you can’t blame that on [former President] George [W.] Bush,” Greg said, noting that using the Obama administration’s projections the budget deficit for the next ten years is $1 trillion per year. And Gregg said that during the same ten-year period, public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product would increase from 40 percent - which Gregg called “tolerable but still too high” - up to 80 percent.

The figures, Gregg told King, “mean we’re basically on the path to a banana-republic-type of financial situation in this country. And you just can’t do that. You can’t keep running these [federal] programs out [into the future] and not paying for them. And you can’t keep throwing debt on top of debt.”

“Standards of living will drop if we keep this up,” Gregg also said.

After repeated promises from the White House that the final health care reform bill will be deficit neutral, Gregg said a Democratic plan to avoid otherwise automatic Medicare cuts without having a funding source for the projected expense of $250 billion over the next decade was “gamesmanship.”

Asked about criticism leveled Sunday by former Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania that Republicans were being obstructionist in the health care reform debate, Gregg replied, “Well, I suppose he has to call us something now that he’s left the party.”

Responding to the Democratic charge that the GOP is “the party of ‘no,’” Gregg pointed to Republican health care reform proposals including his own and another co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and Sen. Richard Burr, as well as a bipartisan proposal put forward by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Robert Bennett (R-UT).”

Gregg said the versions of health care reform voted out of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would amount to “a huge expansion of government.”

“You’re talking about taking the government and increasing it by $1-$2 trillion over the next ten years,” Gregg said. He added that he thought growing government at that rate would have a “very debilitating effect” on the overall economy and the ability of Americans to get health care in the future.

At one point earlier this year, Gregg, who is not seeking re-election to his Senate seat in 2010, was President Obama’s choice to head the Commerce Department. But the fiscal hawk removed himself from consideration because of differences with the new administration on several policy issues.

Filed under: Health care • Judd Gregg • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. JonDie

    “Now you can’t blame that on [former President] George [W.] Bush,”

    Dear Senator Gregg,

    When George W. Bush took office, the budget was balanced (by Democrat Bill Clinton).

    Then Bush and you launched the invasion of Iraq for no other reason than to transfer BILLIONS from the U.S. Treasury to corporations that back Republicans.

    By 2008, this decision to base our economy on placing the country in a permanent state of undeclared war, while cutting the taxes for the rich, and letting the Bernie Madoffs plunder Wall Street led us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of 1929.

    So yes, Senator Gregg, George W. Bush, Judd "rubber-stamped EVERY Bush decision" Gregg and the Republican Party are literally to blame for ALL of our current economic problems.

    October 18, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Oy Vey

    During world war two, Tokyo Rose was a Japanese radio propagandist who did her best to demoralize our troops in the Pacific.

    Her daily emotionally wrenching broadcasts exacted a large toll on the morale of our troops.

    When the war ended she was arrested and punished.

    The GOP, Fox broadcasting and the twisted Rethuglicans who defend the network are exacting their own toll on American morale.

    Do I need to complete the analogy ... ?

    October 18, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. minnie

    Biggest bunch of nuts in Congress. Scary. Obama does not know how to rule this country.

    October 18, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. We Won Get Over It

    Where were you during bush's reign......It certainly is odd and very very suspicious that all these republican hacks are now jumping up and down and spewing about fiscal responsibility..

    NOT A DARN ONE OF THEM SAID A WORD WHEN BUSH WAS SPENDING LIKE A DRUNKEN SAILOR. All they did was vote YEAH. YEAH. If they would have stood up and said WHOA...maybe we would't be in this mess today.

    But of course with the Fox News dung group and people like rush and drudge and malken and beck trying to shift the blame to this administration it would take the whole world to constantly refute the erroneously information they are yellling.

    October 18, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  5. JJ

    To focus only only on the future rather than the hardships Americans face today is ignorant.

    October 18, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. Bertina

    Its an insane argument that says that the debt under Obama is worse than the debt under any other president. Debt is debt no matter how it is engendered. The point is to get out of it and no matter what- as the economy grows, debt naturally lessens.

    October 18, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. cate

    Gregg is a shill for Dubya! As has been stated, Dubya made several calls to this guy when Pres. Obama slated him for a position in his administration...Gregg is good friends with Dubya and was told under no uncertain terms not to take the job!!! How come Gregg hasn't talked about how much the "real" debt was under Dubya when the wars were NEVER included in any of his budgets!!! and Dubya still managed to double the debt without taking the wars into consideration..hmmm, and we should believe Gregg why???

    October 18, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. John Horgan

    Seems the only responsible action that Congress can take is to cut all federal spending except Defense (lowered to $250 billion) and raise federal taxes sufficient to offset the deficits and the total debt. Since the adults ran-up the deby, the adults should pay the debt and not leave it to our children and granchildren.

    October 18, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. Johnny DC

    Before you slander this man as an idiot, keep in mind he was Obama's pick for a cabinet position for a reason. Gregg is a very sound economic mind, and he is very likely correct.

    I agree that if every president was like Bush, we would have serious fiscal problems.


    October 18, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. CAW in MD

    Nice try, Gregg. Take a look at Bush's deficit projections during his reign of terror when you actually count the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as opposed to having them conveniently be "emergency funding" for the entirety of the wars. Then let's compare the numbers.

    October 18, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  11. Dennis in AZ

    One thing–there are no experts on Capital Hill, anywhere on Capital Hill. That said–the Senator from NH is correct about the deficits and the systemic risk being Congress itself. Since Eisenhower, the Congress has shown no propensity towards thrift or self-accountability for their mistakes. If someone thinks forty years down the road about our ability to negotiate treaties when we owe the countries we're negotiating with money we can NEVER repay, the destiny of the country and our personal rights and freedoms seems pretty clear. Combine the overspending with the lack of attention to our Education system–overloaded primarily due to illegal aliens and their progeny, and the result screams Banana Republic. Those in Congress ignore all of America's problems for cash under the table. The corruption and lack of representation needs to stop before we can move forward on anything.

    October 18, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. RR Florida

    AMEN TO THAT!! With a President spending as if HE won the lottery!
    What are we to do?????

    October 18, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  13. Brian New York

    These people in the administration DON'T CARE!
    The way they look at it is this...
    The poor people need all these things and have been deprived.
    Therefore we'll give them it all...

    Nevermind that their own endless spending and not saving got them there in the first place.

    October 18, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. A Southern Lady - North Carolina

    Senator Gregg needs to read up on the history of what happened to this country when Republican Herbert Hoover did nothing in the 1930's and the country slid into the worst depression in this nation's history. We were about to go-over-the-cliff when President Obama took over from George Bush and drastic measures were needed to keep this country afloat. Nobody wants these huge deficits but this was the only way to rescue the country and things are beginning to turn around. Heavens knows what would have happened if President Obama had not acted. Once jobs start to return, we will be back on the road where we were before Republican George Bush killed the economy.

    October 18, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. xyz'ers

    For a lot of us baby boomers we are already being choked to death by the debt. With no cola for the next 3 years and prices that seem to have no ceiling I don't see how My wife and I are going to be able to afford to buy food. We barely can make ends meet now.

    October 18, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. Ed Fl

    Gregg should know , he and his GOP group have set this country back 10 years under Gregg and his right wing nuts along with what Bush has done what several wars and other countries could not do. but have tried. Hopefully Texas and Arizona will take all the screwballs in New hampshire with them when they secede. We may eventually become a respected country again.

    October 18, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. joe

    This guy should go to NH and retire!!!

    October 18, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  18. David

    The WH and congress which try to limit salaries on wall street for taking risk and driving the economy down, should also limit their own salaries (and salaries of their czars and other members of their excessive entourage).....

    October 18, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Independent

    Oh gee, so what else is new from him....is that the Republican memo for the day???? I wonder how many more will be saying the same thing?????

    October 18, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Fred

    We need health care reform in the worst of ways but the people in Washington DC need to grow up and quit worring about themselves and think of the people like myself who struggle paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. That is the biggest problem with this country the people who are making the laws do not have to worry where there next meal is coming from or if they are going to be able to afford to put there children through college because they are already financially set for life. I think they are all way over paid and most are crooked and dishonest and really do not care about anyone except themselves.

    October 18, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    What about what you can do Mr. Gregg. I didn't think Gregg like the rest of his GOP buddies have a solution. The only solution for guys like Gregg is a self serving vote and that's not enough.

    October 18, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. townna brown

    where was all you top republic when Bush was spending all that money yall must was on winter break .bottom line Bush left this country screw up and obamo just cant get us out of it

    October 18, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  23. T Mckinley

    A hyper-partisan statement from a man who puts his party before his country. Where was all this "concern" when GW was spending, spending, spending...?

    October 18, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. Ryan

    Where was Gregg, when bush was wasting $100 Billion on the Iraq war PER Month..

    Gregg you are such a hypocrite, why don't you suggest some solutions instead of offering criticism. Yet another example that the rethuglicans haven't had a new idea in 40 years. They are so pathetic it isn't even funny anymore...

    October 18, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  25. Chad

    And the solution that he offers is...
    Oh, that's right – nothing.
    Can't blame it on Bush? How about we repeal that trillion dollar tax cut that Bush handed out? How about we end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that Bush got us into? How about we stop bankrolling these investment firms and defense contractors? You never hear Republicans talk about these things. It's always "Obama's spending our futures away!" But they never say what we should cut because their friends at Goldmann Sachs and Haliburton would be on the streets.

    October 18, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
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