Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gingrich versus Obama on "Winning the Future"

In 2005, Newt wrote Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America, wherein he laid out his solutions on everything from health care to education to preserving our culture.

In last night's State of the Union, President Obama's theme was "winning the future."

Gingrich noted this in his newsletter this week, under the headline: "Winning the Future...couldn’t have said it better myself!"

He continues:
I started with my first State of the Union as Speaker when I sat behind President Clinton because there has been a lot of speculation about whether President Obama will move to the center as President Clinton did after the 1994 Republican revolution.

Of course, President Clinton’s flight to the center is credited for saving his presidency after a devastating defeat just two years into his first term.

So after an even greater Republican landslide in 2010, and as President Obama eyes a tough reelection with an economy in much worse shape, the question is whether President Obama will make a similar move to the center and try to co-opt much of the Republican agenda as his own.

Well, it certainly felt like "déjà vu all over again" this weekend when people started emailing me asking how I felt about the President picking the theme winning the future" for his State of the Union address.

I wrote a book in 2005 called Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America.

Was President Obama setting the stage to adopt elements of my 21st Century Contract with America, just as President Clinton embraced the original Contract with America?
He compares and contrasts his vision with the President's:
What we heard last night did echo some themes from Winning the Future.

The basic plot was expressed – the need to compete with China and India, reform our tax code, stand up for human rights across the globe, defeat the terrorists, solve the challenge of illegal immigration, and improve math and science learning.

But it was clear that when it came down to hard policy proposals (with a few exceptions), the President’s vision was still big government dressed up in moderate clothing.

The most obvious example was in the President’s disingenuous suggestion of a 5 year discretionary spending freeze as a way to deal with our huge deficit. This after two years of a spending binge unlike this country has ever seen.
Tying in Obama's reference to Sputnik and his tax plan, Gingrich writes, "The only proposals we heard from President Obama to cut taxes were on the condition that other taxes were raised. Reshuffling our corporate tax code is not going to create jobs." He then quotes JFK from 1962, who said:
Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other. It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenues to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits... In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.
On the comparisons between early 1995 and today:
This brings us back to my first State of the Union as Speaker in 1995.

It is important to remember that President Clinton did not immediately move to the center. His famous declaration that "the era of big government is over" did not occur in the 1995 State of the Union. It was in 1996.

In fact, President Clinton fought us for months. He vetoed welfare reform twice. It wasn’t until he realized that he would lose reelection that he eventually relented, signed welfare reform, and adopted many other items in the Contract with America, including balancing the budget, tax cuts, and entitlement reform.

We didn’t do everything perfectly during our battles with President Clinton, but we won on the issues by being principled and tough – a lesson House Republicans should keep in mind in the days ahead....

If Republicans calmly explain to the American people why a simple freeze won’t do the job, the vast majority of Americans will immediately understand and side with them in their desire to oppose big government spending and restore limited government.

We can win on the issues today like we did in 1995.

Remember the 1996 Republicans were the first reelected House GOP majority since 1928. If you win for the first time in 68 years you are doing something right. Standing by our principles and standing up to a liberal President were the keys to that success.

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