Gingrich on GOP Future: End Earmarks, Back to '08 Budget Levels

Newt Gingrich, who led the last Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, was upbeat and confident as he watched the 2010 Republican wave election unfold at his viewing party in D.C.

In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS, Gingrich kept one eye on the election results airing on Fox News as he stood among his long-time supporters at the Ronald Reagan building.

When he became Speaker of the House in the “Republican Revolution” of 1994, Gingrich immediately implemented the conservative principles from his “Contract for America.” Asked how the new House Republican leadership can show the American people that they are serious about cutting government spending, Gingrich gave specific suggestions.

“In terms of cutting spending, they should immediately follow [soon to be Speaker of the House] John Boehner’s leadership and go back to the 2008 budget level — which would save about a trillion dollars over ten years,” he said.

“They can also zero out specific things. For example, the White House czars that have never been approved by the Senate – just have them zeroed out,” stated Gingrich.

He said that there are “a number of steps they can take that can be both practical and symbolic to cut spending.”

Gingrich said that the Republicans will not be able to implement these spending cuts until the new GOP members are seated on January 3, 2011, “as a practical matter because the Democrats aren’t going to come in and cut out their own allies,” he said.

Many conservatives are worried that the Democrats will use their remaining two months in control of a lame duck Congress to pass last-ditch liberal agenda items. Gingrich allayed those concerns. He said that the current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-N.V) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will not be able to get any new more of their agenda to President Obama’s desk.

“I think the Senate Republicans can cause so much confusion,” he said, referring to the filibuster. “And I think the American people would rise up almost in rebellion. The country will not tolerate left-wing radicals’, who have been defeated, trying to further impose radicalism on the country.”

The Tea Party grassroots activists have made ending earmarks a priority of their agenda to see government officials cut spending measures, an idea Gingrich supports.

“I strongly support the idea of -at a minimum- a two- or three- year withdrawal from earmarks, to govern without them for a while, just to break the habit,” he said.

But Boehner did not include ending earmarks in the list of priority legislation in the House GOP’s “Pledge to America.”  Gingrich, however, says that he thinks “Boehner is very serious about this-and so is [new Majority Leader Eric] Cantor.”

He believes that the leadership and the in-coming new members “very probably” can pass a bill in the House to end earmarks in Congress. Also, he said that ending earmarks “could become a very big issue for next year.”

Newt Gingrich is known as a man of ideas. So, whom does he see in this freshmen class with similar new idea ways of thinking?

“I think there are going to be a bunch of ’em,” he said enthusiastically. “Andy Harris in Maryland, for example, is a terrific candidate and is going to do very, very well. Webster in Florida is a former leader in the State Senate, very smart guy, statewide elected official. You are going to see dozens of really smart people.”

“John Boehner is going to have between 80 and 100 freshmen, counting the replacements for Republican open seats. So he’s going to have a huge pool of new talent coming in,” he stated.

Gingrich campaigned in ten states last week, and in 60 places overall in the past year. So he said that he has a “a lot of friends everywhere” whom he was excited to see win.

“I’m a big fan of Ron Johnson in Wisconsin; I’m thrilled that he’s winning, he said. “I’m a big fan of Scott Walker for governor up there.”

As of 11 pm on Tuesday night, Gingrich was waiting to hear results on some close allies. “I have a number of races I’m still watching carefully and holding my breath on,” he said. “At this moment we don’t know where Kasich’s at-and I think Kasich is so brilliant that I really, really hope he wins that race, which would be very important.”

He added that “Susanna Martinez is going to be a great governor of New Mexico.”

Gingrich has said he is considering running for president in 2012. How does the wave-Republicans’ midterm election affect his thinking of a White House bid?

“I think it validates that the country is hungry for a new direction, that the country wants real solutions.” he said. “And the country wants a principled, clear alternative to Obama’s secular, socialist machine.”

Gingrich said he will start looking at his potential presidential candidacy in January, and will make a decision by February or March.

 “But certainly nothing that has happened tonight has made us less likely to run,” he added, with a glint in his eye.