Sen. Gregg: Obama Playing TARP ‘Shell Game’

By Gorman Gorman

Dec 8, 2009 2:31pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: President Obama’s proposal to repurpose some TARP funds for new job-creation initiatives is drawing fierce criticism from Republicans, who say he’s seeking to spend money the federal government doesn’t have — while relying on questionable legal authority.

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who was tapped to serve in Obama’s Cabinet before he withdrew from consideration earlier this year, said on ABC’s “Top Line” today that the money Obama is looking to spend “doesn’t exist.”

“It’s a huge shell game to try to give political cover to the fact that he wants to create a new stimulus program of about $200 billion,” Gregg said. “And it’s all going to be borrowed money, which means it’s all going to go on the deficit, and it’s all going to go in the debt, and it’s all going to be paid for by our kids. And they really can’t afford it because we’re already giving them enough deficit and debt.”

Gregg added: “I don’t think adding another $200 billion of debt here and claiming that you’re wrapping it around TARP makes any sense at all, because actually, you’re not doing anything relevant to TARP. All you’re doing is borrowing more money.”

Asked if the president is pursuing a course that’s different than what he thought it would be when he agreed to serve as Obama’s Commerce Secretary, Gregg responded:
“Yes. I mean, basically, this country is being aggressively taken down in a European model of government by this administration and this Congress. I mean, we are moving very far left, very fast. We’ve nationalized the student-loan industry, basically nationalized a lot of the banks, at least briefly here. The auto industry has been nationalized. Now there’s an attempt to nationalize the health care industry. There is a genuine belief in this administration that you create prosperity by radically expanding the size of government. I don’t agree with that. I think you create prosperity by having government grow at a rate that can be afforded, which means less than GDP, and you give entrepreneurs the chance to go out and create jobs by taking risks.”

The latest proposals as part of the health care bill, to expand Medicare and Medicaid eligibility, would worsen the fiscal crisis surrounding federal entitlement programs, Gregg said.

“That is a nationalization exercise also, I would point that out,” he added. Watch the full interview with Sen. Judd Gregg HERE. We also chatted with Republican strategist Kevin Madden about the president’s upcoming trip to Norway, to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, plus Republicans’ emerging efforts to develop messages that build off of public concern over government spending.

“The spending and deficit are not going away for the next 10 years,” Madden said, “and Republicans, I think, are starting to recognize … that the red-ink argument that we can make against the Democrats and a Washington status quo is the most powerful argument, and is never going away.” Watch that conversation HERE. Follow “Top Line via Twitter @thenote.

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