Former Sen. Judd Gregg is spearheading an effort in New Hampshire to put the mounting federal deficit and debt on the front burner of not only political debate, but, more importantly, he says, of congressional action.
Gregg co-chairs, along with Democratic former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a nonpartisan advocacy group whose focus is "to put America on a better fiscal and economic path."
The group has set up local groups in about a dozen states, including several of the major battleground states in the presidential election.
"Basically what we're trying to do is create momentum for a comprehensive settlement for the debt," Gregg said Tuesday, "working off the original recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission."
In New Hampshire, the group has recently hired the Spradling Group to facilitate the establishment of a local chapter.
Scott Spradling says he is teaming with veteran political strategists Liz Purdy, a Democrat, and B.J. Perry, a Republican, to work on the project.
A bipartisan New Hampshire steering committee from the business and political communities will be announced soon.
The Campaign to Fix the Debt was co-founded by the authors of the Simpson-Bowles plan, former Sen. Alan Simpson and former Clinton administration chief of staff Erskine Bowles.
"What we're trying to do is give (members of Congress) a resource," Gregg said, "and secondly, have grassroots support for members of Congress who are willing to make these tough political decisions and give them the political cover they need to make these difficult decisions.
"When these special interest groups attack them, we will say that if we don't get our debt under control, everyone will suffer," he said.
In a recent joint opinion piece, Gregg and Rendell wrote, "Our debt currently stands at $16 trillion and is spiraling skyward with no brakes. Leaders from both parties have so far avoided discussing the issue substantively in the midst of the 2012 election.
"The candidates pay enough lip service to the debt to try to show that they take the problem seriously, but the lack of details being discussed makes it seem like a far-off problem," they wrote. "The debt is not a far-off problem, though. It is one that is already affecting Americans and businesses in everyday life."
Gregg said in an interview the focus of the group is a special congressional session expected to take place in December and subsequent congressional action the first six months of next year.
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