Gingrich Plan Has Been Tried Before

December 21, 2011

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?

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Lies, Intolerance, and Disrespect for the Rule of Law

August 22, 2010

President Obama was absolutely correct last week when he proclaimed that the Cordoba Initiative, under the Constitution, had “the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”  Of course the president’s remarks set off a firestorm of responses from Republicans looking to capitalize on the issue in this election year.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that Mr. Obama’s view “demonstrates that Washington, the White House, the administration, the president himself seems to be disconnected from the mainstream of America.”  Former House Speaker and potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012 Newt Gingrich said on his website last month simply “No mosque.”  Lastly, of course, the Jesse Jackson of 21st Century political America Sarah Palin wrote in a Facebook message originally posted July 20 – “Many Americans, myself included, feel it would be an intolerable and tragic mistake to allow such a project … to go forward on such hallowed ground.”  These remarks and others like them represent what is so wrong in America today – deceit, intolerance, and disrespect for the rule of law.

In the first place, Palin is stretching the truth by using the “hallowed ground” rationale. The proposed site of the mosque is several blocks from Ground Zero and would be surrounded by a store offering lingerie, a peep show, and sex toys, at least 11 bars, and a strip club.  Calling this neighborhood “Hallowed Ground” is like attaching the same nomenclature to the Strip in Las Vegas.  Given the current makeup of the area, a mosque would add a spiritual influence to its fabric and actually make the district more “hallowed”.  In any event, Palin’s statement, like many uttered by our politicians today, is misleading and has certainly led many Americans to a false opinion of whether the mosque should be built.  

Newt on the other hand employs direct intolerance in his opposition to the mosque project.  “No mosque” leaves little room for negotiation.  How can someone who possibly aspires to be president be so vehemently discriminatory?  Since there are already 10 churches and 3 synagogues in lower Manhattan near the Ground Zero site, a mosque would actually enhance the diversity of that community.  Additionally, these are times when people of different faiths should come together to solve problems and be role models of tolerance and cooperation.  I can imagine no greater tribute to those lost on September 11, 2001 than for the churches, synagogues, and mosques near Ground Zero to work together on projects that promote understanding and peace.  With Newt’s thinking this won’t be possible.

Lastly, Senator Cornyn should know that property rights under the Constitution are not a popularity contest.  Just because a majority of Americans hold a certain opinion, in this case that the mosque should not be built in Lower Manhattan, it does not mean it is the law.  The Constitution specifically grants all Americans equal protection under the law and protects us against deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.  The builders of the mosque have broken no laws and are entitled to the same justice as churches and synagogues.  Thus, they have a right to build their place of worship on their property.  Cornyn’s inference is dangerous because it violates the Constitution by making mob rule king and minority rights arbitrary at the whim of the mob.  At a time when property rights are already under attack from both courts and policymakers, all Americans should stand with the Cordoba Initiative in support of its property rights.  By doing so, they may be defending a future attack on their own.

The debate over the so called “Ground Zero Mosque” is representative of the lies, intolerance, and disrespect for the rule of law which has become so pervasive in American society.  To gain an upper hand in a campaign politicians lie.  We see this all the time in campaigns where candidates have lied about their opponent or themselves.  We have become intolerant by labeling those we don’t agree with “racist”.  More ominously, we have become a society averse to the rule of law, by condoning leaders who lie under oath, lie to start wars and invade sovereign nations unprovoked.  Instead of chastising the president for defending the Constitution, it would have been refreshing if Cornyn, Palin, Gingrich, and others who claim to support the same document, would have come out in support of the president’s position.  Perhaps in America’s current environment this is too much to ask?

Article first published as Lies, Intolerance, and Disrespect for the Rule of Law on Blogcritics.