When Senator Judd Gregg stunningly withdrew as President Obama's choice for commerce secretary, the New Hampshire Republican blamed "irresolvable conflicts" on policy.
He wasn't kidding.
Since giving Obama the heave-ho last month, Gregg has been one of the Democratic president's harshest critics. In recent days, he has been blasting Obama's proposed $3.6 trillion budget, saying it would bankrupt the country. Gregg, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, got some more ammunition Friday, when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that Obama's plan would generate unsustainable deficits averaging almost $1 trillion a year for the next decade.
In an interview on MSNBC yesterday, Gregg said if he were in charge, he would excise from Obama's budget the healthcare expansion ($634 billion over 10 years) and the government takeover of student loans, would freeze discretionary domestic spending, and would tackle entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
He also stood by his eye-opening remarks about the moves by some Democrats to limit debate - and require only a bare majority for passage - on major tax proposals in Obama's budget plan, including carbon and healthcare taxes.
While Democrats say that Republicans did the same when they were in control, Gregg and other Republicans say that puts a lie to Obama's pledge of bipartisanship and changing how Washington does business.
"That would be the Chicago approach to governing: Strong-arm it through," Gregg said last week. "You're talking about the exact opposite of bipartisan. You're talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement, and throwing them in the Chicago River."
But he told the website gay365.com that he doubts that the law defining marriage as between a man and a woman will be overturned. And Frank said he doesn't believe the Supreme Court will declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, either, using a harsh description of Justice Antonin Scalia.
"I wouldn't want it to go to the Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia's got too many votes on this current court," Frank said in a remark first reported yesterday by the political blog of USA Today.
Also, Frank said the attention he is getting on the economic crisis as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee helps the gay community because his personal life has not been a "hindrance" to being trusted by the president and others.
"It is helpful," he said.
Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, and Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, along with some House colleagues, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urging him to support full funding of the DDG-1000 destroyer in the president's budget.
The new destroyer would be built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine and a second shipyard in Mississippi, while contractors in Rhode Island and elsewhere would supply components.