My Message to House GOP Freshmen

This week I’d like to report to you about two homecomings. 

The first occurred this weekend when Callista and I travelled to New Orleans with our family.  I lived there for three years while attending Tulane University, where I received my Masters Degree and PhD. 

The opportunities the faculty and staff gave me to learn and teach while I was at Tulane shaped me greatly.  Furthermore, under the leadership of Scott Cowen, the role that Tulane has played in the revitalization of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is a model of how universities can be active citizens in their communities.  I was honored, therefore, to receive Tulane’s Distinguished Alumnus Award and it was very special to have our family there.

While in New Orleans, we had the opportunity to visit the Audubon Zoo with our grandchildren, who enjoyed feeding the elephants and giraffes.  Many thanks to Ron Forman, the president of the Audubon Zoo, for the opportunity.  

10 Steps to a Stable Governing Majority

The second homecoming occurred last Thursday when I had an opportunity to meet with the House GOP freshmen caucus at the Capitol.  They are a terrific group with a lot of energy and new ideas.  We discussed new solutions for healthcare, the environment, and how to communicate these ideas to the country. 

Here was my message to them:

1. Do not focus on November 2012.  Instead, focus on January 2021.  The goal between now and January 2021 should be to govern so well, communicate so clearly, and include Americans from all backgrounds so consistently that a second wave of House Republicans will be sworn into office in January 2021 to build a better future around our values and principles. 

2. Fight for the values of the American people. Set up a series of choices in which you are defending the values and beliefs of the vast majority of Americans and the Democrats are defending those of the Washington establishment and left-wing elite.

3. American Exceptionalism Matters. Americans overwhelmingly believe America is an exceptional country. Yet President Obama and many Democrats seem intent on denying it. This has clear implications for policy debates, which can be framed around the historic American habits and principles that are the source of our exceptionalism.

4. Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less.  Americans want an American energy policy (see our work at American Solutions) while Obama wants to borrow from the Chinese to buy oil from the Brazilians.  An American energy plan from the House GOP would create a clear policy choice and put Republicans on the side of the American people.

5. Focus on Communication.  Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had a rule: “First you win the argument then you win the vote.” In the end, having the right policies won’t matter if you fail to communicate them effectively. The budget debate will be an example of where this is essential. 

6. Inclusion, not outreach. Outreach is when insiders make a decision and then start calling people to tell them what it is. Inclusion is when they are in the room to discuss the challenges and help reach the decisions. Inclusion will require deep changes in scheduling, staffing, internships, communications, and networking.

7. Be smart, not cheap.  Get to a balanced budget by being smart rather than cheap.  Cutting spending in areas that produce long term savings, such as the National Institutes of Health is destructive to the goal of a sustainable, balanced budget. 

8. Boldness will be rewarded. House Republicans should consider it their duty to pass the changes America needs and rally the American people to put pressure on the 23 Democratic Senate seats up for grabs and the Democratic president. The country will only understand the need to replace Democrats in the Senate and the White House if they see House Republicans offering bold solutions. House GOP timidity would lead the tea parties and activists (including talk radio) to focus their frustration on House Republicans. Boldness will convince them to focus on Democratic opposition to our solutions.

9. A Contract with America in 2012.  Begin now to develop bold proposals for a 2012 Contract with America including a Tenth Amendment implementation bill and a job creation bill, featuring tax cuts, deregulation, litigation reform, and American energy development.  The American people need to see what a Republican team would be like so they have a lot of reasons to give us 40 more House seats, a dozen Senate seats and the White House.

10. Cheerful persistence will be the key habit for success. There will inevitably be tension, arguments, frustrations and internal dissent and conflict. Working through issues with the leadership so a unified Republican team can be creative and effective will take enormous patience and persistence. It is best done cheerfully.

These ten steps were presented in more detail in a document I passed out to the attendees, which you can download here.

The document also included five appendixes. They were: 

1.    Senator Marco Rubio’s op-ed opposing an increase in the debt ceiling unless it is accompanied by significant reforms;

2.    Eight examples of smart (rather than cheap) budget solutions;

3.    Four steps to repeal Obamacare;

4.    Solving health costs by solving health problems – a bold path to a healthier, more cost-effective future; 

5.    Assessing national and homeland security ten years after 9/11.  

You can read the full handout here.

April Charity of the Month: Autism Society

by Newt and Callista Gingrich

In recognition of National Autism Awareness Month, the Gingrich Foundation would like to honor the Autism Society – an organization devoted to improving the lives of all individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders.

As the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, the Autism Society, founded in 1965, works to increase awareness and provide resources about autism spectrum disorders (ASD), as well as promote the dignity of all individuals on the spectrum. With 150 chapters across the United States, the Autism Society has greatly enhanced public awareness about autism, initiated legislation, supported research efforts, and advocated for the best and most appropriate services for individuals and families. 

Today, 60 people will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder – the fastest growing developmental disability, which has seen a 600% increase over the past two decades. Approximately 1.5 million Americans live with ASD. According to the Center for Disease Control’s most recent 2009 study, autism is prevalent in 1 in 110 births and 1 in 70 males. It is a complex developmental disability that affects a person’s communication, socialization, and behavior. Individuals with ASD often possess an acute sensory awareness and may display a lack of social or emotional reciprocity or understanding.

As autism is a spectrum disorder, each individual is affected differently and to varying degrees, ranging from mild to severe. Generally, an ASD appears during a person’s first three years of life. Given the extensive developmental growth that occurs during children’s first years, early intervention is vital to their successful development and their ability to acclimate to the world around them.

In addition to the day-to-day challenges faced by individuals on the spectrum, autism spectrum disorders place heavy burdens on families. The Autism Society estimates that one child with autism costs a family approximately $3.5 million to $5 million over the child’s lifetime. Aside from the vast financial burden, individuals with ASD require extra time and special attention, often at the expense of other family concerns and relationships.

The Autism Society offers a number of programs and initiatives that serve to advance its mission. The organization has partnered with AMC Theatres since 2008, offering Sensory Friendly Films, which has given many families their first opportunity to go to the movies. The two organizations are also collaborating on an employment initiative called FOCUS, which employs people on the autism spectrum and helps them to develop skill sets to become contributing members of their community, thereby encouraging independence and self-sufficiency.

In recognition of National Autism Awareness Month, the Autism Society has extended its ongoing partnership with AMC to include a special 40-city tour screening a new autism documentary titled Wretches & Jabberers. The film follows two adult men on the autism spectrum as they travel to Sri Lanka, Japan, and Finland to spread awareness about autism and to change people’s perceptions about disability and intelligence, as well as showing that autism affects people of all ages, not just children.

Furthermore, the Society supports research initiatives and interprets research studies for its constituents. Its Environmental Health Initiative explores environmental impacts on brain development and public health, and its Treatment Guided Research Initiative studies individual responses to autism treatments. The Autism Society assesses the most effective treatments for different manifestations of ASD and provides this information to families via its comprehensive website, quarterly magazine, and contact center.

While many people have difficulty seeing beyond the traits that shape the appearance and behaviors of a person with autism, the Autism Society understands the potential of each individual on the spectrum. All of the organization’s efforts align with its overarching goal: to improve the lives of all affected by autism and to promote and encourage the dignity and uniqueness of each individual.

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, please join us in donating to the Autism Society. Your generosity will help spread awareness so that children and adults affected by autism can excel in the world.

Your friends,

Newt and Callista Gingrich

P.S. Because this newsletter only comes once a week, I have been posting notes on my Facebook page to react to events as they happen.  I also post videos of my speeches and provide updates from my travels. You can follow me on Facebook here.