One-Time Cabinet Nominee Assails Obama Budget Plan
By Philip Rucker
While President Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address today to assuage the fears of people in the flood-ravaged upper Midwest, his one-time nominee to be commerce secretary took to the airwaves as a fiery critic of the administration's budget plan.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who was Obama's second pick for the commerce job and dropped out days later, delivered the GOP's response address today, saying that Obama's budget proposal "spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much."
Gregg, a deficit hawk who is the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said Obama's budget would triple the national debt over the next 10 years.
"He also is proposing the largest tax increase in history, much of it aimed at taxing small business people who have been, over the years, the best job creators in our economy," Gregg said. "And further, he is proposing a massive new national sales tax on your electric bill, so that every time you turn on a light switch in your house, you will be hit with a new tax -- and it averages over $3,000 per household.
"These are staggering numbers," Gregg continued, "and represent an extraordinary move of our government to the left."
The address was remarkable in that it came from a man who, just seven weeks ago, stood at Obama's side and accepted a Cabinet post in the new Democratic administration.
"This is not a time for partisanship," Gregg said at his Feb. 3 White House announcement as commerce secretary nominee. "This is not a time when we should stand in our ideological corners and shout at each other. This is a time to govern and govern well. And therefore when the president asked me to join his administration and participate in trying to address the issues of this time, I believed it was my obligation to say yes, and I look forward to it with enthusiasm."
One week later, of course, Gregg withdrew as Obama's nominee, saying that he wanted to remain "my own man" and that joining the Democratic administration was "just a bridge too far for me."
Posted at 5:14 PM ET on Mar 28, 2009
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