Judd Gregg, please stop talking

JUDD GREGG, PLEASE STOP TALKING…. I suppose we can learn a lot about a politician towards the end of his or her political career. Once an elected lawmaker announces an intention to retire, the official is freed, to a certain extent, from political pressure. He or she can do exactly what they really believe is right, without concern for how a decision might affect fundraising or poll numbers.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), for example, is preparing to leave the political stage after a long career. Any chance he might become more reasonable and sensible in advance of his departure? Apparently not.

The United States wouldn’t even be eligible to enter the European Union if it wanted to because of its debt levels, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) claimed Thursday.

“We won’t even be able to get into the EU if we wanted to,” Gregg said this morning on MSNBC, “because our government is so large and so huge.”

The European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) adopted in 1997 requires a budget deficit to be less than three percent, and requires a national debt beneath 60 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“We’ve been lectured by France on the fact that we’re not fiscally responsible right now,” Gregg, the would-be commerce secretary, noted with incredulity.

It’s worth remembering that Gregg doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The EU offers flexibility to governments that are responding to economic crises — note to Gregg: we’re in the midst of an economic crisis — and several EU members will run deficits well above 3% this year. Those countries will be expected to lower those deficits in the coming years, which not incidentally, is what the Obama administration plans to do in the U.S.

For that matter, Gregg repeatedly supported, enthusiastically, Bush budgets that ran deficits that were more than 3% of GDP. Gregg did not, at the time, run to the cable networks to whine about it.

But let’s also note that Gregg is just popping off in the media a little too much lately. In addition to his confusion about the EU, he also told CNN the other day, “The practical implications of [the Obama administration’s budget] is bankruptcy for the United States. There’s no other way around it. If we maintain the proposals that are in this budget over the ten-year period that this budget covers, this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt, our dollar will become devalued.”

First, Gregg is completely wrong. Second, his wildly irresponsible claptrap undermines confidence in the United States on the global stage in the midst of an economic crisis. In other words, by making a series of nonsensical and unsupported claims about our economy, Gregg actually runs the risk of undermining our national interests.

Gregg has been wrong about nearly every major economic challenge of the last couple of decades. If he could take this moment to enjoy a little quiet time, instead of acting like a partisan hack, we’d all be better off.