Friday, May 20, 2011

Photos of Newt's crowds in Iowa (hint: not exactly lacking in size)

Newt's spokesman, Rick Tyler, has posted these pictures to his Twitter account the past couple of days:




Council Bluffs




In Marshalltown, the room was over capacity so a wall had to be opened up to allow more chairs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ben Domenech's column on Newt

Domenech, no Gingrich partisan, wrote a column in which he defends the idea Newt put out on Sunday that conservatives first have to convince the public a change in policy is needed, not simply shove it down their throats. He also called those who said Newt's campaign is effectively over "unserious observers of politics."

Some of the highlights:
Gingrich went on to describe his support for a plan where “people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose” a policy solution on people. This was a key element of a proposal advanced last year by Bill Clinton’s former budget director, Alice Rivlin, and former Republican Senator Pete Domenici (N.M.). It’s the same policy position taken by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Gingrich rival for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Indeed, it’s a policy solution that Ryan himself has said he would be open to in the past, calling it a “fine idea worth considering.”

Yet such facts are too inconvenient for the alliance of critics and opponents who turned Gingrich’s remarks into a radioactive rejection of Ryan’s entire plan. In so forcefully rallying to defend their fresh young idea man in Ryan, and blasting foolishly at the warning of the older, battle-tested idea man in Gingrich, that ideas must not be imposed, but first sold to the public, these individuals may unintentionally set themselves on a path to become the real life imitation of Walker Percy’s Knothead Party.

On Tuesday, Gingrich reiterated to me that he still would’ve voted for Ryan’s plan as a “first step” along these lines—and that he favors Ryan’s premium support system—yet he considers an essential alteration of the plan to be “giving seniors the right to choose.”


Making the case that controversial ideas need to be first sold to the public, and that they need to set aside compulsory social engineering in favor of consumer choice, is not something that should be rejected as anathema to conservative principle or end anyone’s presidential campaign.


Gingrich’s warning this week is clearly borne in part out of the experience he gained in the 1990s, when he saw so many unexpected outcomes—both in politics and policy—as a result of what were thought of as pro-reform policies favored by the right’s base. Tea Partiers and other new elements involved in politics today can dismiss this wisdom if they wish, but assuming top-down imposition of a new system will not lead to unintended consequences, does not need to be sold to the American people, and can set aside consumer choice is a dangerous path, one more in keeping with flights of fancy than serious policymaking.


In the 1990s, Gingrich frequently found ways to win an argument while losing the audience. Today, as he advises his allies on the right to remember to win both, too many critics seem bound and determined not to learn from past mistakes, even if Gingrich has. The future of entitlement reform may well depend on if they are willing to reconsider.
As I said in my last post, one of the common criticisms of Newt is that it is hypocritical to both take issue with part of Ryan's plan and say he would vote for it. So I suppose it is also hypocritical for those who argued Ryan's budget should have cut more spending but still who voted for it. Same principle.

Domenech's last point is a very important one. If the goal of those on the right who are tearing apart Newt is to actually implement serious entitlement reform, they should learn how to sell it to the American people. It is not enough to just have the right policy, which many have yet to realize.

Newt shares the same goal of entitlement reform, but he wants it done with the American people on board. Why needlessly sacrifice a number of Republicans in Congress if the right policy could be adopted with just a tweak in it?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Newt wants the Medicare changes to be optional, not compulsory

While much -- much -- has been written of Newt's appearance on Meet the Press Sunday and his criticism of Paul Ryan's proposed changes to Medicare, the journalists and others have missed a very important part of the story.

Newt does not oppose changing Medicare; instead, he wants seniors to have an option. Newt and Ryan both want to modify Medicare, making it a premium support system, but whereas Ryan forces seniors to buy private insurance, Newt would allow seniors to use the subsidies to purchase private insurance or stay in the traditional government-run insurance.

Much like how conservatives have proposed making any flat tax proposals optional -- so as to avoid political blowback and make important, needed reforms possible -- Newt is doing the same with Medicare. The current Ryan budget -- which is great policy -- is proving to be a headache for many House Republicans.

Newt's optional change to Medicare should not have been such a shock to people. On an April 20 Facebook post, Newt explained he wanted to "allow seniors to choose, on a voluntary basis, a more personal system with greater options for better care."

Many of the conservatives going after Newt today have intimated that it is contradictory for Gingrich to have said he would have voted for Ryan's budget -- and calling it "brave" -- and yet criticizing it. Which means that anyone who criticizes any piece of legislation cannot ultimately vote for it. That's nonsense.

John McCormack of The Weekly Standard writes:
I pointed out that Paul Ryan doesn't see much difference between his plan and what Gingrich was calling for on April 20, and Gingrich's spokesman agreed. "There is little daylight between Ryan and Gingrich," he wrote. "But look how it gets reported. Newt would fully support Ryan if it were not compulsory. We need to design a better system that people will voluntarily move to. That is a major difference in design but not substance."

But if there's "little daylight" between the two, why did Gingrich call Ryan's plan "radical" and "social engineering"?

"Radical means that politically you can't get to what Ryan wants from where we are," wrote Tyler. "It will be demagogued to death. Right wing social engineer refers simply to compelling people to participate without giving them a choice. That is a political mistake."
The biggest political mistake involving the issue was done by the House Republican leadership holding a vote on the issue, which exposed vulnerable members to the political heat -- when there was absolutely no chance of it passing with the current Senate and President.

Some of the highlights of Club for Growth's report on Newt

Club for Growth, whose negative White Paper on Mike Huckabee three years ago gave the former Arkansas Governor a lot of bad press, released their first paper this cycle today. Newt was the subject.

From the White Paper: "Gingrich can be one of the most clear-eyed and forceful advocates for supply-side economics and the value of free enterprise." They criticize him about his support of some tax credits, but as they note, there is not going to be any Presidential candidate -- especially a serious one -- who does not.

Club for Growth: "In a 2008 op-ed, he enthusiastically praised the idea of an optional, single-rate income tax reform proposal." The report does not say it, but last week Newt included an optional, 15% flat tax in his 9 point "Gingrich Jobs and Prosperity Plan."

The Club commends Newt on, among other things, free trade, wanting the repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley and many other burdensome regulations, personalizing Social Security, school choice, tort reform, and political free speech.

The report's summary states:
One could reasonably expect a President Gingrich to lead America in a pro-growth and limited government direction generally, possibly with flashes of real brilliance and accomplishment, but also likely with some serious disappointments and unevenness.
Of course, the same can be said of every political leader, even Ronald Reagan, who irked many conservatives over his two terms in office -- including a young Newt Gingrich.

No one is able to get 100% of the policies they want. Ronald Reagan's philosophy was to get 70% of what he wanted, then once people saw how well it worked, he would get the remaining 30%.
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