GOP Senator Willing to Let Dems Off Voters' Hook in Exchange for Debt Reduction

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A Republican senator said Sunday he has no problem letting Democrats "off the hook" of voter anger over the deficit if it means passage of a commission to come up with ways to reduce long-term debt.

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who is retiring in January 2011, said the United States is on an "unsustainable path" toward being unable to repay the debt ever, and the "regular order" of politics isn't going to take care of the problem.

"We're going to pass on to our kids a country which is less prosperous than we received from our parents, which is totally inexcusable," Gregg told "Fox News Sunday."

Congress is preparing to pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling to $14 trillion. That's nearly equal to the country's annual economic output.

Gregg has co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, to create a commission to study ways to reduce the debt. The group -- composed of 10 Democrat and eight Republican lawmakers and administration officials -- would need 14 members to agree on cutting spending or raising taxes, and its recommendations would have to be approved by a supermajority of Congress by the end of 2011.

Gregg said he can live with some Democrats getting a reprieve from voters if they approve the panel's work.

"Yes, it is going to insulate some people by taking a vote which says that they can say, 'Well, I did this vote, so therefore I was responsible.' OK. But if it reduces the out-year debt, we'll have accomplished the goal of putting us on a reasonable path toward solvency," he said.

Gregg said to ignore the problem would mean leading the country to bankruptcy, which would mean the next generations will "confront massive inflation or massive tax increases."