Senator Judd Gregg likes to strike a conspicuous public pose in the manner of a deficit hawk, a politician who will hunt down any little bit of wasteful government spending and stomp on its head until it has expired. You’ll find all sorts of statements on Gregg’s official senatorial web site about how he’s saving taxpayers money.
There’s one bit of legislative action by Senator Gregg that you won’t be able to read about in any press release from Senator Gregg’s office. It has to do with ski poles.
Late last week, Senator Gregg introduced a bill that would cost the federal government, increasing the budget deficit. It’s S. 1844, “a bill to suspend temporarily the duty on ski poles”. Senator Gregg submitted the bill to the Senate Finance Committee.
Why should foreign-made ski poles receive a special break from import duties? Is there a great humanitarian need in the USA for cheaper, foreign-made ski poles?
Some company in Senator Gregg’s state of New Hampshire, in which the ski industry is fairly powerful, is selling foreign-made ski poles, and wants to make a bigger profit by evading the import duties that federal law requires. Such a duty suspension would benefit that company, which seems to have cultivated a special kind of friendship with Senator Gregg. Gregg’s legislation would cause economic harm, however, to manufacturers of ski poles within the United States. The legislation would increase the federal debt, through the elimination of duties and through the loss of taxes that would have been paid by American manufacturers of ski poles. Thus, Gregg’s bill would, on its own scale, sap energy out of the American economy just for the particular benefit of a few.
It’s not legislation a true deficit hawk would embrace. It seems that Senator Judd Gregg’s harsh fiscal conservative principles are applied only to people who lack the money to send lobbyists to his office. For the well-connected and well-funded, Senator Gregg is happy to throw fiscal conservatism out the window.