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White House Cheat Sheet: Picking Judd Gregg

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), shown here in September 2008, seems to fit the bill at Commerce. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

President Obama appears to have settled on New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg as his pick to head the Commerce Department, a choice that is expected to be announced some time this week, according to informed sources in both parties.

The Gregg selection provides an interesting window in the mind of Obama and his senior advisers as the pick works on at least three levels: the partisan (or bipartisan), the political and the practical.

Let's break each down.

From a partisan perspective, picking Gregg is yet another sign that Obama's talk of finding the best person for the job regardless of party affiliation is being borne out in his actions. Gregg, if nominated and confirmed, would join Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Illinois Republican congressman, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was appointed to that post by former President George W. Bush and retained by Obama, as visible evidence that the new president is trying to set an example of how he wants to do thing differently in Washington. (Some would say the problems surrounding former Sen. Tom Daschle, Obama's pick for Health and Human Services, reek of politics as usual -- but more on that below.)

At a political level, the pick could well be a masterstroke. While sources on Capitol Hill suggest that Gregg will only take the job if Democratic Gov. John Lynch promises to appoint a Republican to serve out the remaining two years of his term, there are many people -- particularly within the GOP -- who wonder whether Gregg will really win that concession. Even if he does, the names being bandied about for Republicans are all in the "caretaker" model, meaning that the seat will be open in 2010. Democrats are quickly lining up behind Rep. Paul Hodes as their nominee and Republicans have no obvious candidate to step in for Gregg. Given New Hampshire's strong move toward Democrats over the last two elections, the party would have to feel good about winning in an open seat scenario. (FYI: The frontrunner for the caretaker nod is Bonnie Newman, a former chief of staff to Gregg, and a founding member of Republicans for Lynch in 2004.)

Finally, at the practical level, putting Gregg at Commerce would give Obama someone known and trusted in the Senate whom he could task with selling the need for entitlement reform -- a high priority for the new president that will be a centerpiece of the upcoming fiscal responsibility summit in February. Gregg, who has served in the Senate since 1992, is a past chairman of the Budget Committee -- a perch from which he emerged as a strong advocate for just the sort of entitlement reform Obama is now advocating.

Looked at from those three perspectives, it's easy to see why Obama wants Gregg for his final Cabinet slot.

Sked Stuff: It's a big week for northeastern Republicans (the few that are left) at the White House. Not only could Gregg be announced as the next Commerce Secretary as soon as today, but Gov. Jim Douglas (R-Vt.) also will have an audience with the president this morning to talk about the economic stimulus package currently wending its way through Congress. Douglas has been Vermont's chief executive since 2002 and has withstood the Democratic tide in the region despite having to run for reelection every two years. It's more bipartisan outreach for Obama who knows that Douglas needs votes of Democrats and Independents, who largely favor the economic stimulus plan, if he wants to get reelected again in 2010.

News Nugget: Former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, Obama's nominee for HHS secretary, will meet behind closed doors today with the members of the Senate Finance Committee in an attempt to explain more than $100,000 in unpaid back taxes for the use of a car and driver, among other things. Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), said Sunday that his boss still believes Daschle is the "right man for the job and is confident that he will be confirmed." And, as Paul Kane notes in a story from the Sunday Post, Daschle's long relationships with senators of both partisan stripes may well be his saving grace in what promises to be a somewhat difficult confirmation process. While Democrats are outwardly confident, there are signs of dissent. Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the second ranking Republican in the chamber, said Sunday on Fox News Sunday that he was "troubled" by the revelations against Daschle and said it was "too early to tell" whether his former colleague would be confirmed. One Republican Senate aide said that GOPers would allow the Finance committee some leeway to investigate the charges but added: "There are serious questions that both Mr. Daschle and President Obama will need to address before this matter will be considered on the floor."

Econstimpack Ads: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching radio ads in markets comprising 28 Republican-held House districts today aimed at scoring political points for the vote last week on Obama's economic stimulus package. The ads, which we first reported in our "Monday Fix" newspaper column, target a wide variety of GOP members from freshmen like Chris Lee (N.Y.) and Brett Guthrie (Ky.) to leaders like National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.). "Republicans' champagne wishes and caviar dreams simply don't connect with middle class families struggling to make ends meet and furious that their tax dollars are going to bail out banks, build schools in Iraq, or send American jobs overseas," said DCCC executive director Brian Wolff -- channeling Robin Leach. The radio ads come days after a series of liberal outside groups -- Moveon.org, Service Employees International Union, Americans United for Change -- announced TV ads targeted at persuading Republican senators like Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa).

Click It!: Election Day 2010 is still 638 days away but if you're desperate to cast a ballot before then, make sure to check out YouTube's "Ad Blitz" contest where you can vote for your favorite ad from the Super Bowl last night.

Burris' Burden: New polling in Illinois suggests that appointed Sen. Roland Burris (D) could have a real fight on his hands next year if he decides to seek a full term. The survey, which was done for the Daily Kos blog by Research 2000, put Burris in the lead in a hypothetical Democratic primary with just 26 percent followed by Rep. Jan Schakowsky at 12 percent and state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias at 11 percent. A whopping 51 percent of Democratic primary voters are undecided. More troubling for Burris? Thirty-five percent of the sample had a favorable opinion about him while another 35 percent felt unfavorably toward the new senator. The data suggest that Burris must not only get better known between now and next November (he will) but that he also must work to rehab an image tainted by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Putnam -- Out: Florida Rep. Adam Putnam, the red-haired, conservative firebrand who was seen as a rising star among House Republicans, is stepping aside after this term to run for the state's Agriculture commissioner gig. While Democrats will almost certainly cast Putnam's retirement as a sign of Republicans' continued morale problems, this is a decision best seen through the prism of state politics. Putnam has long acknowledged his interest in being governor of Florida and is clearly better positioned to claim that title in 2014 (when GOP Gov. Charlie Crist is term limited out of office) from a statewide post than a seat in Congress. Expect Democrats to take a long look at this seat, which went comfortably for Bush in 2000 and 2004 before Obama lost it narrowly in 2008.

Say What?: "The Republican Congress did a great job in drawing the line." -- Newly-elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Fox News Sunday praising House Republicans for their unified "no" vote on the president's economic stimulus package last week.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 2, 2009; 5:35 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Weekend Wag the Blog: Daschle's Demise?
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Wow, politics isn't boring any more -- look at this avant-garde move -- a GOP guy of all things!! Wake me up for the two year faux elections.

Posted by: newbeeboy | February 3, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

The government has been creating jobs for the last seven years. All of them are military and defense related. No rightist warmongers complain about this spending, regardless of how unnecessary, wasteful or unproductive.
Wouldn't it be great if we could have half of the money wasted in Iraq right now for
infrastructure or alternative energy development.
When foriegners stop picking up the tab, America will go down like Argentina.

Posted by: seemstome | February 2, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Tell your Senators and legislators to Eliminate taxes for 2008, return the money you paid in for taxes - let you spend your own money for whatever you need. You know how to better spend your money. It is obvious that the Government does not know how to quit spending. We would all be better off - We would need no IRS - think of the money we would be saving. And the American People will have their own money to Stimulate the Economy. Better that we spend our money that to give it to the government and let them spend it, Right?

Posted by: rschwank | February 2, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

You know I just realize Blago might want to take a close look at this situation! Whats the difference between trying to sale a senate seat to the highest bidder, and Blackmailing the administration into putting a Republican into the senate seat, or refuse the seat offered by Obama unless his wish's aren't carried out of a republicans being seated in his senate seat! Any way you look at it Blago wanted money for the seat, and this man is blackmailing to get a republican seated! Wow, when does it stop? Ok, the challenge is guys, you explain to me how this is any different than what Blago tried to do with his senate seat? Talk me down, as meddow would say!

Posted by: abbytreadway | February 2, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Funny, I can't seem to think



that is understandable coming from a Lib. We all expect that these days. the rookies and amatuers are running things now. thinking is way out of style and is so last cycle.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | February 2, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The basic notion that government creates jobs is outlandish. All they can do is take money from actual job creators, pull their piece out for graft and assorted campaign contributions, and spread the rest around to Lib supporters.

the only role for government in a properly functioning economy is to enforce existing rules, not create more regulations to burden us. If Barney had not been so eager to loan money to deadbeats, if the bansk had not been forced to overlook centuries of conservative tradition in lending standards, if Greenspan had not printed money by the ton, the oversupply of credit and goods would not have started. the only cure, painful as it is, is to adjust to the proper level of economic activity and supply/demand.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | February 2, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

If he is not a tax cheat, how can he possibly fit in there?

Posted by: king_of_zouk | February 2, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

The PAST Republican Presidents have never EVER offered a job to Democrats or sought there input on anything.
Not true. "W"'s first Secy of Transportation was Norman Minetta, former Secy of Commerce under Clinton and a former Democratic congressman.

And, who can forget the advice that "W" got from CIA Director George Tenet, who was appointed to that position by Bill Clinton?

Posted by: GRILLADES | February 2, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

The comment about the "Republican Congress" is typical Steele...not the brightest bulb or sharpest knife. How many times did he flunk the bar exam??

Posted by: mysammy | February 2, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

jake is looking for his shoes.

Judd Gregg should not go on any planes.

And if I mess up my income tax, can I still be appointed to a cushy position?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 2, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

JRM2, by definition there are no government capitalist programs. That does not excuse the labeling of government tinkering with the economy as "socialism". Socialism is the public ownership of the means of production and distribution.

There is room for government regulation and for a "safety blanket" in a capitalist economic system, and Adam Smith saw a role for regulation at the birth of capitalism.

Modern fiscal and monetary policy are aimed at moderating the business cycle and they have generally worked. Recent government programs aimed at fueling a boom [encouraging easy lending and deregulating secondary markets] coupled with the Chinese accumulation of wealth through pre-capitalist mercantilist practices left an environment where beanie babies could be sold to the Chinese as investments in western financial markets. Boom-and-bust was accentuated rather than tamped.

None of this says capitalism is a failure, and none of this says that righting the regulatory ship and stimulating the economy is socialism.

Try to argue about ideas and policies instead of getting trapped in misfitting labels, please.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 2, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

"...in order to pass all their Socialist programs"

Funny, I can't seem to think of any capitalist programs that are working out too well right now, can you?

Posted by: JRM2 | February 2, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans, the party of nope. Everyone else, the parties of hope. Conservatives are praying Obama fails, nice bunch these phonies. Whatever it is, if from Obama, nope to his hope. But the Republican protection to the executives bilking the American taxpayer is crashing down. Their irrelevancy is going to be replacing their irreplacability. Wow, it is going to take a bit of doing to correct these Republican, yes, that's right Republican, huge screwups. From every corner of government this nope cancer must be removed.

Posted by: MikeQ2 | February 2, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Have a any doubt that blogs like "The Fix" and "44" are getting through to the good, "the bad and the ugly in the corridors and cabals of D.C. power?

For your consideration...

"Dear scrivener50: We know who you are. Trying to expose us in the WaPo is not a wise move; we don't appreciate it. You haven't seen anything yet. (Think that's just a Q-tip?)

Posted by: Dan4 | January 31, 2009 1:49 PM"


Any civil liberties attorneys reading this: please contact me via the web site referenced below. And Wash. Post. -- please consider doing a story about those in and out of government who dare to issue threats via public mass media blog sites.





The Bush-Cheney "multi-agency action" extrajudicial vigilante network and its related unconstitutional array of "programs of personal destruction" remain in place.

President Obama may not even be aware of some of the deeply entrenched "ops" that threaten his presidency...

... The "multi-agency action" nationwide army of citizen vigilantes hiding behind federally-funded volunteer organizations;

... the deployment of radiation weaponry to police departments nationwide;

... and the multi-agency unconstitutional programs -- ranging from pervasive spying to a parallel system of transaction processing that amounts to fascistic theft by deception -- must be taken down.

Immediately. Before more damage is done.

Before another "generated crisis" claims the renewed American spirit and again plunges the nation into despair and submission to "the dark side."

The agencies of government that are covertly commandeering this devolution of American democracy -- via their draconian "multi-agency action" programs -- must be reined in and reformed, top to bottom, never again to subvert the rule of law.



OR http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 2, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

No Mr. Chris Cillizza. Picking Judd Gregg for Commerce in the Obama administration, doesn't prove that "..Obama's talk of finding the best person for the job regardless of party affiliation", it proves the opposite. It proves that Obama and the Democrats are ONLY giving the Commerce job to the Republican Senator from N.H. Judd Gregg, because they need his seat to gain a fillibuster-proof Senate, in order to pass all their Socialist programs. What Obama and the Democrats are doing is simply playing politics. Get rid of Republican Senator Judd Gregg and replace him with a Democrat by giving him another job. It's like giving up a Queen, Rook, Knight, or Bishop in Chess, to checkmate the King, and win the game. If Judd Gregg accepts this job, he mights as well change his party affiliation and become a Democrat.

Posted by: armpeg | February 2, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The one poster who could best defend Von Mieses, JD, is long absent from "The Fix".
JD's absence is our loss.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 2, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, the poll results are no surprise. The distinction that the poll fails to draw is the difference in viewpoints about what is directly stimulating to the economy. For example, it is silently assumed by some that food stamps are highly stimulative and by others that they are irrelevant to stimulation.

The weight of economic theory - both the Keynesian and Friedman schools - would say that food stamps are "countercyclical" and in a downturn are highly stimulative, because the tax dollar spent on food for a poor person will circulate five times more in twelve months, thus generating about one tax dollar in the subsequent year, and keeping the dull times off for five businesses and their employees.

There is a Miesian libertarian school - more "conservative" than the Friedman monetarists like Greenspan and Feldstein - that abhors governmental stimulus. There is a supply-side school that believes in stimulating supply even when there is an oversupply.

Zouk can speak for the Miesian school and make its defense. I do not know any posters who can defend supply-side in a low demand oversupply economy, but I invite them. Perhaps you, JakeD, can explain supply-side in this situation.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 2, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

At 7:37A I posted:

Thank you for partially answering the question of Judd's relevant experience. Does he have any foreign commerce background? If you know, please post.

No one posted. I did I little very light google research and found that he is the ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee that deals with foreign expenditures.

He has at least some background, I conclude, and is not a bolt from the blue.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 2, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse


Should the economic stimulus bill contain items not directly related to strengthening the economy or creating jobs?

Yes 9% (6337 votes)

No 91% (60856 votes)

I vote for "no" too.

Posted by: JakeD | February 2, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama is also making it clear that the Democratic Party is now the natural home of the moderate Northeastern Republicans disenfranchised by the GOP's devolution into a white, southern, christianist party.

Posted by: nodebris | February 2, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

mattadamsdietmanager1014 who is your source that Gregg will "except" the job. Does your source use all caps to convey mindless points as well?

Posted by: djf9g | February 2, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama figured out a clever way to give Harry Reid his 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Instead of continuing to raid Reid’s caucus for Cabinet appointees, Obama could find a Republican Senator whose seat was at serious risk in 2010, from a state where a Democratic governor would appoint the replacement. Obama gets some bipartisan credibility and Reid gets his final supermajority vote, while the Republican gets a golden parachute.
Unfortunately for Reid and Obama, Judd Gregg has not quite played along with Obama’s master plan. I wish we had a lot more politicians like Judd Gregg, regardless of political stripe. Hopefully, Harry Reid and Barack Obama will get stuck holding their 30 pieces of silver.

Posted by: leapin | February 2, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Smart choice by President OBAMA! Gregg will except the job. The PAST Republican Presidents have never EVER offered a job to Democrats or sought there input on anything. Further they were never bipartisan. OBAMA will definatly be reelected, REST IN PEACE "RIP" Republicans for a long long long long long ...... time! At this point i can't even see them coming back in 2016.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | February 2, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

'"The Republican Congress did a great job in drawing the line." -- Newly-elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Fox News Channel praising House Republicans for their unified "no" vote on the president's economic stimulus package last week.'


I'm beginning to feel sorry for the GOP. Payback is a beach, ain't it?

Posted by: Pluto1 | February 2, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

if the situation were reversed and there was a republican president who was looking to select a democratic senator with a republican govenor, there would be no deal. if the democrats have accepted this deal, then they are really naive'. and if a deal has been made, what makes this deal any different than the one in IL. just the suggestion that the white house, the govenor and senator have got their heads together to make a deal smells. let senator feingolds bill proceed and lets have all open senate seats be voted on - period.

Posted by: mj9501 | February 2, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

With Bonnie Newman at the helm of something called "Republicans for lynch," I'd be okay with her appointment.

How did Gregg vote on fiscal/financial matters during the Bush regime? I'm truly afraid to look.

Posted by: Pluto1 | February 2, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

What did people think of the Superbowl ads? I thought the first half was pretty weak. I did like the careerbuilder.com one with the koala punching. Also liked Alec Baldwin's hulu.com ad. (that site is great, by the way)

Posted by: DDAWD | February 2, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Obama has not even pretended to do anything about the massive ice storm that has disabled much of Kentucky and neighboring states. It took days for FEMA to swing into action. Why is that not a scandal? Days went by before Kentucky's governor called out the National Guard. Why did no one blame Obama for failing to call out the Guard sooner? Probably because he lacks the constitutional power to do so; but the Constitution hasn't changed since 2005.

Posted by: leapin | February 2, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

He's not black so he is a token.

Posted by: leapin | February 2, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The Gregg appointment is brilliant BHO move: it gets the Dems to a filibuster proof 60 votes and provides BHO an extreme conservative Republican advocate within this Administration for his bills and judicial nominees. Gregg can be an important bridge to the GOP, who still seems determined to pander to a narrow extremist base (e.g., the narrowcast audiences of Rush, Michelle Maglagang, Hannity, etc.) rather than expand and diversify.

The Gregg coup sets up another terrific week for O. Last week, House Repubs sadly and unwisely followed the siren call of a discredited bloated bloviating radio hatemonger and voted unanimously against a jobs package at a time the Nation is in a Depression.

Those "no" votes agianst the jobs bill -- and Rush's now famous "I hope Obama fails" quote -- will provide invaluable material for countess Dem ads over the next year or so. In fact Rush's words have already found their way into independent ads.

Even Alaska Gov. Phalin, as well as many other GOP governors, realizes the folly of opposing a jobs package proposed by a popular President during a Depression.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | February 2, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Chris, I would argue that the Illinois poll is good news for Burris. The fact that, even after this colossal media circus, and his taking an appointment from a ridiculously corrupt governor in a display of venal ambition, a third of Illinoisians have no opinion of him, and his favourable/unfavourable is about even, is frankly astonishing. If he's made it thus far without being utterly destroyed, he may actually have a shot.

Posted by: SeanC1 | February 2, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I watch a lot of talk shows especially on MSNBC and CNN - Please I ask each pundit especially Michelle Bernard who may want to please her host (will not say name with WaPo rules about "no hostile comments attacking people".)
To repeat what I said may have a backlash on me. Actually I can't speak for many African-Americans (AA) . It is only I that I speak for. I who used to be a banker and now due to downsizing and disability has been bitten by the bitter and cynical bug.

Mr. President forgive me for that first remark. It was too over the top!!

To induce race in this is as bad as Karl Rove inducing religious into the last eight years.

My bad Sir, I will vote for you as will most AA come 2012!

Posted by: danson1 | February 2, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I do hope Fingold gets his bill passed that allows special election once a seat has been open due to cabinets seats fills.
Obama is a lot like Hillary. I should had just stuck with my first mind and voted for her (as do a many african-americans). At least Bill Clinton would had made sure she appreciated the ones who voted for her. Obama going out his way to appease to the ones who didn't.

Only after Bill Clinton made that remark in South Carolina did Blacks jumped to him in doves.

Well Mr. President if you plan on running in 2012 - Your honeymoon will be over with the African Americans, and many won't come out to vote. Now how many down the middle republicans do you think can make up for the Black vote.

Remember this one thing - out of all the races of people - African Americans are each other worst critic. And we do have a tendency to take one another down.

Posted by: danson1 | February 2, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

What do republicans know about commerce?
This is what. Take American jobs, crate them up and send them overseas. Then they call it free trade. The free market system.
When wealthy republicans lose their money in this free market system, they turn to a socialist bailout using tax money.
Lynch became governor of New Hampshire with republican help. Now he will appoint a republican to replace Gregg. Like Lieberman to the south, he is a democrat in name only. Democrat, republican, it makes no difference. The corporations always win. They own both teams.

Posted by: seemstome | February 2, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for partially answering the question of Judd's relevant experience. Does he have any foreign commerce background? If you know, please post.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 2, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

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