Why Did Judd Gregg Want The Job In The First Place?
Now, he’s saying:
It has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census, there are irresolvable conflicts for me,” Mr. Gregg said in a statement. “Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.”
But Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says it was Gregg who reached out to Obama in the first place to pitch himself for the job.
“He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the President’s agenda,” Mr. Gibbs said. “Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama’s key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways.”
Gregg says his stepping down has nothing to do with the vetting process; it’s about policy.
“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives,” Mr. Gregg said in a statement. “I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.”
Gregg just this week said he supports the stimulus package.
I think the one that’s pending is in the range we need. I do believe it’s a good time to do it at two levels, which this beill basically does, which is immediate stimulus and long-term initiative which actually improve our competitiveness and productivity.
Gregg blames himself for accepting the job in the first place, citing a need for independence and his background as a fiscal conservative. He seemed to make conflicting statements as to whether Obama’s desire to have the Census director report to both Commerce and the White House was a factor in his decision.
In a statement announcing his withdrawal, Gregg cited the administration’s Census decision as one of two “irresolvable conflicts for me” that he said were not adequately discussed before he accepted Obama’s nomination. “We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy,” Gregg said. Later during a news conference with reporters, Gregg said “The Census was only a slight catalyzing issue. It was not a major issue.”
The White House announced its decision last week, as minority groups raised concerns about Gregg’s past opposition to Census funding. [In fact, as Think Progress remembers, Gregg voted in 2005 to abolish the department he might have headed].
Obama administration staffers said the decision was based in part on historical precedence during the Clinton administration.
“As they have in the past, White House senior management will work closely with the Census Director given the number of decisions that will need to reach the President’s desk,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a written statement.
“This administration has not proposed removing the Census from the Department of Commerce and the same Congressional committees that had oversight during the previous administration will retain that authority.”
Republicans are claiming Obama wants to politicize the Census by taking it under their control. But former Census directors see that as unlikely.
As for potential political interference, “It’s virtually impossible to do something wrong without someone finding out about it,” said Vincent P. Barabba, who ran the 1980 Census. “It’s about as transparent an agency that exists.”
Barbara Everitt Bryant, who served as director during the 1990 Census, said: “I would have liked a little of the bully pulpit help, because one of the big things is just to get everyone to answer the questionnaire. The president would have a lot more clout on that than anything we could have done at the Census bureau.”Click here for reuse options!
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