"Gingrich’s Economic Recovery Plan: Obama Should Spend At Least 35 Days Talking To Republicans"
This morning on NBC’s Today Show, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich blasted President Obama for not working enough with Republicans on the economic recovery package. He said that Obama was wasting time giving “partisan” speeches to House Democrats, when he should be hosting bipartisan meetings. Gingrich then held himself up as a model:
GINGRICH: I think he is in real danger of becoming Jimmy Carter instead of Ronald Reagan. … What we got last night wasn’t let’s reason together, let’s sit down and negotiate.
You know, when we did the balanced budget bill — which saved $405 billion in federal debt over four years and it’s the only time since the 1920s — President Clinton and I had to negotiate for 35 days in order to work out all the details. [...]
This is more money than the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war have cost in seven years, and you don’t just ram that through unthinkingly. You expect your representatives and senators to try to make the bill work.
Host Matt Lauer pointed out to Gingrich that “the situation is different this time around” than during the Clinton administration. Gingrich responded that if the situation was so grave, Obama shouldn’t be “making partisan speeches in front of a partisan audience.” Watch it:
Gingrich’s comparison of the economic recovery package’s cost to that of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is unfortunate. After all, President Bush did “ram” the Iraq war through Congress and to the American public by lying and presenting false intelligence.
In contrast, Obama has gone out of his way to work with congressional Republicans, meeting with them more than Bush met with Democrats during his entire presidency; he has even held private one-on-one meetings with Republicans.
But as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has made clear, “Being bipartisan does not mean having to lay down and say we’ll do whatever you want.” Gingrich is not interested in a compromise bill; he wants capitulation. From the beginning, he has been urging Republicans to vote against a economic recovery package that has any spending at all — even though spending is more stimulative than tax cuts.
Today’s Labor Department announcement that the U.S. economy lost 598,000 jobs in January alone underscores why Obama can’t sit down and talk with Republicans for 35 days. Today’s Progress Report has more key principles to guide the economic recovery discussion.
LAUER: Let me ask you how you think President Obama has handled this so far. A couple of weeks ago, he went to Capitol Hill, reached out to Republicans, met with them at their caucus. This week, a much tougher stance against Republicans. Last night, you just heard the comments he had to make. He’s angry about this. Is he justified, or is he sending mixed signals?
GINGRICH: I think he is in real danger of becoming Jimmy Carter instead of Ronald Reagan. He’s zig-zagging. He’s not accurate. The fact is, in the House, there were 11 Democrats who voted no. In the Senate, it is a bipartisan group of Democrats and Republicans together who are saying this bill’s too expensive. What we got last night wasn’t let’s reason together, let’s sit down and negotiate.
You know, when we did the balanced budget bill — which saved $405 billion in federal debt over four years and it’s the only time since the 1920s — President Clinton and I had to negotiate for 35 days in order to work out all the details.
LAUER: Except, though, Speaker Gingrich, the situation is different this time around, isn’t it? President Obama talks about grave and immediate consequences to the economy if this isn’t passed sooner than later.
GINGRICH: Well, if it’s that great and immediate, why isn’t he calling bipartisan leadership meetings in the White House to work out details instead of making partisan speeches in front of a partisan audience, attacking the people whose votes he’s going to need? I agree this is a very grave situation, but that doesn’t excuse trying to ram through a $920 billion bill.
Think of it — the scale — Matt. Every American could not pay a single penny of income tax or a single penny of Social Security tax from now through August for the amount of money we’re talking about. This is more money than the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war have cost in seven years, and you don’t just ram that through unthinkingly. You expect your representatives and senators to try to make the bill work.