The Hart-Rudman report is still one of the most ignored but oddly prescient blue ribbon commission reports. It’s an I told you so for the 10 years after it was written.
In addition, he was a Republican that doesn’t exist anymore: a northeast social moderate.
Rudman served 12 years in the Senate, a deficit hawk with a reputation for honesty and blunt talk.
“I think those who really did get to know him – get past the gruff exterior everyone comments on – got to like him very much,” Hart said. “He had a very good sense of humor. He could laugh at himself, often did, and he was a generally remarkable human being.”
A pro-choice Republican who opposed school prayer and didn’t believe the Second Amendment created an absolute right for individuals to own guns, Rudman was to the left of his party on many social issues, especially later in life.
He was, however, a strict conservative on defense and fiscal matters, and fixated on the federal budget deficit, which he watched grow as President Ronald Reagan enacted tax cuts and a military buildup in the early 1980s.
Out of that swelling deficit came his major legislative achievement. The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reform bill, signed into law in 1985, set mandatory deficit reduction targets and imposed automatic spending cuts if Congress didn’t meet them. The goal: a balanced budget by 1991.
A good faith “debt hawk” who would compromise and not harp on social issues. Those were the days.