In the debates for the Republican nomination for president, it is no accident that Newt Gingrich constantly invokes the name of conservative icon Ronald Reagan. Gingrich continually reminds us that he was in Congress fighting for Reagan’s tax cuts and his military budgets in the early 1980s. Naturally this is a calculated political strategy on the part of Gingrich since the most faithful Republican primary voters are Reaganites. But, the strategy is more than political; it is an indication of how he would govern if elected president.
According to Gingrich’s official campaign website, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives is essentially proposing the same program that Reagan foisted on America in the 1980s. The key elements of which are huge tax cuts and military spending.
In terms of taxes, Gingrich’s plan would lower individual tax rates, lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 12.5 percent and eliminate the capital gains tax. Any lover of small government should love these proposals, however Gingrich never addresses how he would pay for the tax cuts. On his site, he proposes no specific spending cuts and claims he will balance the budget by “growing the economy” through tax cuts.
For his part, Ronald Reagan based his entire economic platform to get the economy moving again on tax cuts. He also claimed that lowering taxes would grow the economy and balance the federal budget. After eight years in office he managed to triple the federal debt. The problem with Reagan wasn’t that he cut taxes (he also was the biggest tax raiser in history to that point) it was that he didn’t cut spending. He proposed cuts when he ran for president, but didn’t follow through on his rhetoric.
At least Gingrich is not being dishonest about his intentions not to cut federal spending, but his overall policy will have the same effects as Reagan’s – an enormous increase in the national debt. Given that our debt has already reached a critical point, we can ill afford a return to 80s style economics; thus we can ill afford a President Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich is also proposing Reaganesque militarism if he is elected president. Of course that is the path we have been on since the 1980s anyway. He has no intention of making any military cuts a part of debt reduction. In fact, according to his campaign website, under President Gingrich the U.S. would continue to be the world’s military policeman:
“America’s foreign policy must begin by understanding who we are as a country. We are, as Ronald Reagan said, the world’s “abiding alternative to tyranny.” Therefore, America’s foreign policy must be to ensure our own survival and protect those who share our values.”
So while he proposes to cut taxes drastically and offers no spending cuts, he also would seek to at the very least keep spending enormous amounts of money on military adventures that don’t contribute to our safety and security. In fact, by defending Israel unconditionally his policy would make us much less safe.
There is no doubt that Ronald Reagan’s legacy is still very much with us today. Indeed, Newt Gingrich has co-opted the Reagan governing plan as his own. It is a simplistic plan that set us on the road to an astronomical national debt. We are currently at a breaking point with that debt and all Newt Gingrich can do is propose more of the same?