Judd Gregg: Commerce Secretary

Condoleezza Rice and Judd Gregg


Born: Feb 14, 1947, Nashua, New Hampshire. Education:Nashua public school and Phillips Exetiv Academy; Columbia University, 1969; Boston University Law School, 1972; Eccupation: Lawyer; Political career: State executive councilar, 1979 - 81, US re- presentative, 1981 - 89; N. H. governor, 1989 - 93, US-senator, 1993 - present; Family: Wife Kathleen; daughters Molly and Sarah, son Joshua (The Boston Globe)


Judd Gregg - Foto by Deb Cram (Porthsmouth Herald)

Cub Scouts on Capitol Steps

Judd Gregg's wisdom: Abolish Commerce Department

by Timothy P. Carney, Examiner Columnist (San Francisco)

"... Teddy Roosevelt created the Department of Commerce an Labor in 1903, and 92 years later, when Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress, they pushed to abolish the agency. The Budget Resulotion that passed the Senate that year included total abolition of the Department. Republicans said they aimed to shift some functions and eliminate others. If President Barack Obama and Gregg dismantled Commerce, they eliminate a source of political corruption, cutting waste, and rolling back corporate welfare. In these times, as the federal-industrial complex is growing out of control, those Republican arguments from 1995 seem well worth revisiting. Speaking on the House floor that year, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-OH, called the Department "little more than a welfare department for big cor- porations." What about Gregg? He voted for the budget resolution abolishing the department, but he wasn't  vocal on that score. Still, according to one Democratic staffer quoted in CQ, Gregg was not a fan. "He was generally pretty harsh on them and not really interested in their programs, especially the commerce side of things." Looking at what Commerce does, you can see why Gregg - or anyone who believes in free markets - might be harsh on them.

Senator and Mrs. Gregg

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership is a Commerce Department that, according to its website, "provides its manufacturing customers with a wide array of fundamental services in business and process improvements helping them to stay and ready to compete in the global market." Why this corporate-consultant role should be part fo goverment in unclear. While the Congress has begun phasing out Commerce's Advanced Technology Program - a program that spent millions to free up tech tevelopers from seeking real investors, instead giving them taxpayer cash to develop their breakthrougj technologies - ATP's sister program, the Technologies Opportunities Programm still hums within Commererce.  Commerce officials also travel overseas - often with American CEOs in tow - to lean on foreign governments and foreign companies to do business with U. S. companies. This is all corporate welfare - the transfer of wealth from  taxpayers to well-connected businesses. Corporations and Commerce Department supporters defend goverment spending to promote American business, arguing that corporate success helps all Americans. Sure, but the idea of a market economy is that privat profit can help the public because the free market creates an incentive for businesses to give us what we want. The Department of Commerce distorts that incentive, instead rewarding businesses for giving us what bureaucrats and politicans want. Recall Bill Richardson's words when he accepted Obama's nomination for Commerce Secratary, "The catchphrases of your economic plan," Richardson said to Obama, "investment, public-private partnership - that is the Department of Commerce." Obama seemed to agree, praising Richardson: "As governor of New Mexico, Bill showed how goverment can act as a partner to support our business..." Of course, Richardson was forced to withdraw from the post because of a federal investigation into a donor of his who received a state contract - "public private partnership, "indeed. And yes, Richardson is correct, such business-goverment collaboration "is the Department of commerce."

President Obama and Senator Gregg

There's little reason so far think Gregg engages i pay-to-pay or corruption, but as with almost any politcian, there are warning signs. According to the Center for Re- sponsive Politics, at least ten formerr Gregg staffers are now registered lobbyists. For instance, former Gregg aide James Gallagher lobbied for Fannie Mae in the 1990s and currently lobbies for military contractor General Dynamics. Former Gregg senior Steve Irizarry has lobbied for many major pharmaceutical companies and high-tech and dot.com firms, too. Then there's Kevin Coonce, the former Gregg staffer who took front-row hockey seats and baseball tickets from al lob- byist allied with Jack Abramoff, and according to this lobbyist's guilty plea, got legislative favors in return. Judd Gregg voted to abolish the Commerce Depart- ment in those early, idealistic days of last decade's Republican Revolution. There's another idealistic revolution sweeping town these days - one the aims to rid undue corporate influence. Maybe they can take cues form Judd Gregg of 1995."

Examiner columnist Timothy P. Carney is author of "The Big Ripoff: How Business and Big Government Steal Your Money."