Former New Hampshire Sen. Warren Rudman has died. His name will always be linked to a 1980s-era effort to tame the federal budget deficit and to a pre-Sept. 11 warning about the nation's security. And he will be remembered as a "moderate" Republican who could work across party lines.
According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, the 82-year-old Rudman "had been ill for a considerable time." Bob Stevenson, a spokesman for Rudman, tells us the former senator died just before midnight Monday at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Rudman had lymphoma.
"The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, better known as 'Gramm-Rudman Hollings,' created a series of deficit targets meant to balance the federal budget by 1991. If these targets were not met, a series of across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration) would automatically ensue. The legislation was sponsored by Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH), and Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and was signed into law by President Reagan in December 1985."
In practice, as Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told All Things Considered last year, "one of the lessons of Gramm-Rudman was that the trigger exempted a lot of different policies. So Social Security wasn't part of the trigger. Revenues weren't part of the trigger."
After not seeking reelection in 1992, Rudman went on to chair Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategy firm. He was also "chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board during the Clinton Administration and was co-chair of the U.S. Commission on National Security, which called for the establishment of a department of homeland security in 2001, just six months prior to the September 11th attack," as his Albright Stonebridge bio says.
The Commission on National Security, co-chaired by former Democratic Sen. Gary Hart, also warned in 1999 that "we should expect conflicts in which adversaries, because of cultural affinities different from our own, will resort to forms and levels of violence shocking to our sensibilities." And, the commission added:
"America will become increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack on our homeland, and our military superiority will not entirely protect us."
As for the current state of politics, Rudman told NPR's Scott Neuman in 2010 that "the more outrageous you are, the more likely you are to appear on the evening news. ... Obviously, we've become a more partisan nation. Most people don't like what they see more squabbling."