Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose campaign has surged in recent weeks, boosting him as high as third in national polls, sought to add more momentum to his candidacy by unveiling a 21st century Contract With America in Iowa on Thursday.
The legislative part of the contract is a 10-point blueprint that also serves as a campaign platform.
The pact will evolve, and has four parts to it, which include legislative efforts, executive orders to be signed on his first day in office, training efforts, and building a citizen-led movement with a focus on social media.
Gingrich asked voters to be “with him” and not “for him,” because “only the American people,” by working with him, can save the country—no politician or magic can do so.
The document not only highlights what voters have always admired about Gingrich—his ideas—the candidate is also cleverly using it as a vehicle for citizens to become stakeholders in his campaign. Further, Gingrich says the contract will not be finalized until September 2012, and it will inform voters of what he would do on his very first day in office—a guarantee that Gingrich will stay in the conversation throughout the primaries and general election.
While pundits counted Gingrich out in the summer, his stellar debate performances and focus on ideas, issues and American exceptionalism has seen his stock rise. He is now third in many national and state polls.
In Iowa, referencing the “paid professionals” that left his campaign, Gingrich said it was his fault for believing that consultants, no matter how “smart” they are, could understand his vision of a campaign that is not only positive, but seeks to bring in new groups into the Republican coalition while maintaining current GOP voters.
Below are the 10 parts of his legislative contract, with comments from Gingrich on the specific aspects.
1. Repeal ObamaCare and pass a replacement that saves lives and money by empowering patients and doctors, not bureaucrats and politicians.
Gingrich writes that “the ObamaCare law is unconstitutional, unaffordable, unworkable and stunningly unfair.” The “so-called individual mandate” is blatantly unconstitutional and an unprecedented expansion of federal power,” because “if the federal government can coerce individuals—by threat of fines—to buy health insurance, there is no stopping the federal government from forcing Americans to buy any good or service.”
2. Return to robust job creation with a bold set of tax cuts and regulatory reforms that will free American entrepreneurs to invest and hire, along with reforming the Federal Reserve and creating a training requirement for extended federal unemployment benefits to encourage work, and improve the quality of our workforce.
Part of Gingrich’s plan would be to eliminate the capital gains and death taxes, and lower the corporate tax rate to 12.5%. Gingrich would also give individuals the option to pay a flat tax if they wanted their tax returns to be “done on a single page.”
Gingrich writes: “Subtract from your income a standard deduction and deductions for charity and home ownership, multiply the result by a fixed single rate of taxation, and the process is over. Gone will be the stressful hours spent figuring out whether your military service or marital status will adversely affect your return. No more headaches trying to determine where estimated tax payments go. Tax preparation fees could be money spent on something more rewarding. Such an optional flat-tax system would create a new standard deduction, which would be above the established poverty level, meaning an optional flat tax would not unfairly target the poor.”
In Iowa, Gingrich noted that it would be cheaper for corporations such as General Electric to pay its share of taxes than to “hire lawyers to avoid taxes.”
3. Unleash America’s full energy production potential in oil, natural gas, coal, biofuels, wind, nuclear, oil shale and more, creating jobs, stimulating a sustainable manufacturing boom, lowering gasoline and other energy prices, increasing government revenues, and bolstering national security.
Gingrich contends, “We must also replace the EPA, which pursues an anti-jobs agenda the economy simply cannot sustain. A pro-growth Environmental Solutions Agency in its place will operate on the premise that most environmental problems can and should be solved by states and local communities.”
In Iowa, Gingrich said America would be enriched from royalties gained through energy exploration.
4. Save Medicare and Social Security by giving Americans more choices and tools to live longer, healthier lives with greater financial independence.
In Iowa, Gingrich compared the current lack of choice in the Medicare and Social Security system to someone going to a Walmart with thousands of aisles, but being told that some aisles are off-limits. He called for an expansion of options in both programs, including giving the option for younger people (without mandates) to opt-in to private social security accounts.
Gingrich also noted that fraud needs to be combated in Medicare—the current bureaucrats and their outdated systems cannot possibly keep up with “crooks with iPads.”
5. Balance the federal budget by freeing job creators to grow the economy, reforming entitlements, and implementing waste-cutting and productivity-improvement systems, such as Lean Six Sigma, to eliminate waste and fraud. Pass a balanced budget amendment to keep it level.
In Iowa, Gingrich noted he was the only speaker in most people’s lifetimes that has balanced the federal budget.
6. Control the border by Jan. 1, 2014, and establish English as the official language of government. Reform the legal visa system, making it much easier to deport criminals and gang members, while simplifying the process for law-abiding visitors to come to the US.
In Iowa, Gingrich noted that he would also be willing to send half of the Department of Homeland Security to the border to control it completely by January 2014. Gingrich said, “We should make it easier for honest people to visit America honestly.”
7. Revitalize our national security system to meet 21st century threats by restructuring and adequately funding our security agencies to function within a grand strategy for victory over those who seek to kill us or limit American power.
Gingrich focused on the need to “streamline our security, intelligence and diplomatic departments, and recapitalize our military infrastructure.” He wrote, “We need a new strategy that is as decisive and comprehensive as our bold and unprecedented response to the rise of the Soviet threat after World War II.”
8. Maximize the speed and impact of medical breakthroughs by removing unnecessary obstacles that block new treatments from reaching patients, and steering a significant amount of research spending toward urgent national priorities, such as brain science, with its impact on Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s, mental health and other conditions that brain breakthroughs address.
Gingrich said this was one of the boldest parts of the contract, and that brain-science research could contribute to significant developments in autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s treatments. He also contended that America could export those findings to the world. Further, Gingrich said that medical sciences have the potential to become a job-creating vehicle that could revive the economy.
9. Restore the proper role of the judicial branch by using the clearly delineated powers available to the President and Congress to correct, limit or replace judges who violate the Constitution.
Gingrich reiterated that the judiciary is too powerful, and that he would take all measures necessary to ensure that it is the weakest branch of government, as the Founders intended.
10. Enforce the 10th Amendment by starting an orderly transfer of power and responsibility from the federal government back “to the states, respectively, or to the people,” as the Constitution requires. Over the next year, state and local officials and citizens would be asked to identify the areas that can be transferred back home.