Former GOP Senator: Most Americans ‘Are Simply Ignoring Republicans. And They Should.’

Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) had a brutal assessment of his own party in an op-ed published Monday in The Hill.

“Most Americans these days are simply ignoring Republicans. And they should,” Gregg wrote. “The self-promotional babble of a few has become the mainstream of Republican political thought. It has marginalized the influence of the party to an appalling degree.”

Gregg, who left the Senate in 2011, became the latest Republican to sound off on the strategy by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), as well as many tea party lawmakers in the House, to defund the new health care law, an effort that raises the risk of a government shutdown.

An approach to the debt ceiling that says one will not vote for its extension unless ObamaCare is defunded is the political equivalent of playing Russian roulette with all the chambers of the gun loaded. It is the ultimate no-win strategy. 

You cannot in politics take a hostage you cannot shoot. That is what the debt ceiling is. At some point, the debt ceiling will have to be increased not because it is a good idea but because it is the only idea. 

Defaulting on the nation’s obligations, which is the alternative to not increasing the debt ceiling, is not an option either substantively or politically. 

A default would lead to some level of chaos in the debt markets, which would lead to a significant contraction in economic activity, which would lead to job losses, which would lead to higher spending by the federal government and lower tax revenues, which would lead to more debt. 

The House passed a continuing resolution on Friday that will provide funding to the government but will cut funding to the Affordable Care Act, placing pressure on Cruz and Lee.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said last week that it is “not rational” to believe the Senate will halt Obamacare, while a poll released Monday found a majority of Americans opposed to shutting down the government or defaulting on the national debt in an effort to defund the law.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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