Former New Hampshire Gov. Judd Gregg says the tea party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in October did the country a disservice by adding to the nation's debt and unemployment rolls.
"To begin with, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made himself the center of discussion as he, along with his companions, called for the total elimination of Obamacare as the price for allowing the government to pursue its day-to-day activities and to pay the bills it had incurred, " Gregg, a Republican who also served in the U.S. Senate, wrote in an editorial published Monday in The Hill.
"The price tag for the notoriety achieved was considerable," he continued.
First, said Gregg, a former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, was the cost to the public.
Noting that the cost of short-term borrowing for the government went up 9 basis points during the 16-day shutdown while six-month treasury notes went up 22 points, Gregg wrote, "This may not sound like much but it actually represented a totally unnecessary increase in spending to pay for these higher interest charges. The added expenditure totaled close to $400 million."
"Now, not only do the American taxpayers have to pay for this additional debt, they have to pay interest on the funds borrowed to pay the debt," he added.
In addition, he noted that the shutdown cost jobs by slowing the economy, which translates into lost tax revenues for the government.
"These tax revenues would have paid for obligations which the government has incurred. Now, without these revenues, these obligations will have to be paid for by more borrowing," said Gregg, now the CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.
"Once more, the debt burden has been increased by the actions of those who claim their goal is to reduce our inexcusably large debt. To put it mildly, it is difficult to see how the average taxpayer was a winner as a result of this exercise," he asserted.
For some conservative leaders and groups, Gregg acknowledged that the political ramifications of the shutdown may prove to benefit their agenda. For example, he said that "for Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint and his acolytes in the Senate, the results were all good. Their PACs raised a great deal of money."
But for many Republicans, he insisted, "It will be tough for them when they go home and try to explain why they represent a party that put America through this incoherent course of action, which was totally counterproductive for anyone who actually wants to rein in the spending of the federal government."
"In the end," Gregg wrote, "these folks did not reduce spending, rather they increased it; they did not kill Obamacare, rather they gave it political cover during its botched roll-out; and they dramatically lessened their party's chances of taking back the Senate and keeping the House."
"All in all," he concluded, "hardly such a great plan."
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