Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Judd Gregg role on entitlement reform?

One reason Republicans regretted New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg's acceptance of President Obama's nomination as Commerce Secretary is that the Senate would lose one of its strongest voices for long-term budget and entitlement reforms. Gregg was a leading sponsor of the so-called Gregg-Breaux Social Security Reform Act, which was co-sponsored by Sens. John Breaux (D-LA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bob Kerrey (D-NE), Chuck Robb (D-VA), Craig Thomas (R-WY) and Fred Thompson (R-TN). More recently, Gregg has teamed up with Budget Committee chairman Sen. Kent Conrad to sponsor a commission to take on long-term tax and spending challenges, including entitlement reforms. These are big shoes to fill.

But it appears all is not lost. A story in Politico today contains the following note:

In something of a surprise, the fiscally conservative Gregg noted that Obama selected him "especially" for his work on entitlement reform. "If our credit is going to be good and our dollar is going to be strong, we have to address entitlement reforms," the Republican said.

While the Commerce Department has not before played a strong role on entitlement reform, Gregg's will be a strong voice within the administration for restraining the growth of entitlement spending and putting the nation's long-term books in order.

Update: The Manchester Union Leader weighs in here.

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