Thursday, February 12, 2009

David Broder one week ago: (excerpts, emp add)
... President Obama filled one Cabinet vacancy on Tuesday ... recruiting Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire as commerce secretary ...

... in months to come, Gregg will be worth celebrating. He is one of the smart guys on Capitol Hill, especially when it comes to fiscal policy. And he provides Obama with a third strong Republican Cabinet member, joining Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Ray LaHood at Transportation.

Gregg and North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, respectively, have been pushing for the creation of a bipartisan commission that would tackle the looming bankruptcy of the three big entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Conrad told me that he deeply regrets the departure of his partner and does not know where to find a substitute.

But help may be on the way. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the No. 3 man in the Senate Republican leadership, quietly joined the Budget Committee last month. When I asked him why, he said it was to "help move the Gregg-Conrad commission proposal forward."

Moreover, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader of the Senate, told the National Press Club that a bipartisan deal on entitlements is something he thinks can and should happen in this Congress.

Obama said the same thing when he visited The Post just before his inauguration, and now he has in Gregg someone who can help him lobby Congress to move the project forward.
Washington Post editorial (for tomorrow, Friday): (excerpts, emp add)
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) withdrew his nomination yesterday to become commerce secretary.

... the reversal should not discourage Mr. Obama from seeking bipartisan cooperation. Maybe he didn't sufficiently think through the merits of handing a key economic position to someone with a radically different philosophy.


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