John Sununu Has Earned New Hampshire’s Trust

By: Warren Rudman

Union Leader

October 9, 2008

The next Congress faces the most critical economic issues our country has dealt with since the Great Depression. Steering the economy in the right direction requires effective leadership and an understanding of how our economy works where it really counts -- on Main Street. It requires more than the same old Washington talk.

During my 12 years in the U.S. Senate, I learned quickly to tell between the talkers and the leaders. We need a proven leader with the ability to work effectively and in a bipartisan manner to get results. That leader is Sen. John Sununu, and he has clearly earned our respect and our vote.

Sen. Sununu had the foresight few others displayed and led the early fight in Congress for more oversight of our financial markets. Since 2003, John has been an independent voice calling for more accountability from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the insurance market and credit agencies. His long record of leading the reform effort speaks for itself and is vastly different from an opponent who doesn't understand the root of the problem or how to fix it.

In his first year in the Senate, and again in 2005 and 2007, John introduced legislation to strengthen the regulation and oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because he understood the threats to our financial system's safety and soundness posed by these housing giants. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats blocked his calls for reform, which has proved to be a tremendous error in judgment.

With the looming crisis in the insurance and credit rating markets, in 2006 he introduced the National Insurance Act to establish a federal role in the oversight and regulation of insurance markets and firms like AIG. That year, he also supported the Credit Rating Agency Reform Act, which passed in the U.S. Senate, to protect investors, taxpayers and the public interest by fostering accountability, transparency and competition in the credit rating industry.

In 2008, the senator continued his work for improved oversight. He supported the Treasury Department's Blueprint for a Modernized Regulatory, which highlighted his recommendation to establish a modern, optional federal charter for insurance. On front after front, Sen. Sununu has provided the type of effective, bipartisan leadership so uncommon in Washington today.

To put our economy on the right track takes a leader who will stand up for New Hampshire taxpayers and rein in Washington spending. Sen. Sununu has been the independent voice and leader we can depend on to do this. The same cannot be said about Jeanne Shaheen, who has a long record of calling for higher taxes and increased spending.

In 2003 and 2005, John opposed the bloated energy bills that were loaded with unnecessary tax subsidies to oil companies and included other budget-busting spending. He also opposed the budget-busting highway bill and said "no" to billions in pork barrel spending.

We all remember the "Bridge to Nowhere" -- among the most egregious examples of boondoggle projects. John was one of only 15 senators to stand up and vote against it. In March 2008, Sen. Sununu voted in favor of enacting a one-year moratorium on earmarks that would have prohibited Congress from trying to fund more "Bridges to Nowhere."

Recently Congress passed a $300 billion farm bill riddled with pork-barrel spending and special interest provisions that would have raised food prices, placing more pressure on family budgets. It was John who once again stood up and said no to unfairly increasing the burden on families while Jeanne Shaheen supported it.

This critical U.S. Senate race presents voters with a stark contrast. Shaheen's record reflects the tax-first-and-ask-questions-later economic philosophy not just at odds with our tradition of putting taxpayers first, but also basic common sense. As governor, she failed to deal with the education funding crisis -- the most important policy issue facing New Hampshire in a quarter century -- and instead gave this state a statewide property tax, proposed a sales tax which would have devastated our small business economy, proposed initiating a capital gains tax and vetoed a repeal of the death tax.

With the critical issues facing our nation today, we need to keep John Sununu in the U.S. Senate because he understands what it will take to strengthen our economy. When it matters, Sen. Sununu gets it right, and when it mattered for New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen got it wrong. Sen. Sununu has served as a powerful reminder that the government works for us, not vice-versa, and he deserves our vote on Nov. 4.

Warren Rudman was a Republican U.S. senator from New Hampshire from 1980 to 1993. He is co-founder of the Concord Coalition.