Newt Gingrich on Government Reform

Former Republican Representative (GA-6) and Speaker of the House

Replace bureaucratic mindset with Entrepreneurial Management

The 21st Century Contract with America includes:
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org, “Issues” Sep 1, 2007

Insist on judges who understand our rights come from God

For most Americans, the blessings of God have been the basis of our liberty, prosperity, and survival as a unique country.

For most Americans, prayer is real, and we subordinate ourselves to a God on whom we call for wisdom, guidance, and salvation.

For most Americans, the prospect of a ruthlessly secular society that would forbid public reference to God and systematically remove all religious symbols from the public square is horrifying.

Yet, the voice of the overwhelming majority of Americans is rejected by a media-academic-legal elite. Our schools have been steadily driving the mention of God out of American history. Our courts have been literally outlawing references to God, religious symbols, and prayer.

We have passively accepted the judiciary’s assault on the values of the overwhelming majority of Americans. It is time to insist on judges who understand that throughout our history, Americans have believed that their fundamental rights come from God and are therefore unalienable.

Source: Rediscovering God in America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 9-10 Dec 31, 2006

Supreme Court has become permanent Constitutional Convention

The media-academic-legal elite have been successful to date at purging all religious expression from American public life. Their success is because for the last 50 years the Supreme Court has become a permanent constitutional convention in which the whims of five appointed lawyers have rewritten the meaning of the Constitution. Under this new, all-powerful model of the Court, the Constitution and the law can be redefined by federal judges unchecked by the other two coequal branches of government.

This power grab by the Court is a modern phenomenon and a dramatic break in American history. The danger is that the courts will move us from a self-understanding that we are one nation “under God”, to a nation under the rule of the state, where rights are accorded to individuals not by our Creator, but by those in power ruling over them. History is replete with examples of this failed model of might-makes-right--Nazism, fascism, communism--and their disastrous consequences.

Source: Rediscovering God in America, by Newt Gingrich, p.132-133 Dec 31, 2006

Insist on judges who understand our rights come from God

Yet, the voice of the overwhelming majority of Americans is rejected by a media-academic-legal elite that finds religious expression frightening and threatening, or old-fashioned and unsophisticated.

It is time to insist on judges who understand that throughout our history--and continuing to this day--Americans have believed that their fundamental rights come from God and are therefore unalienable.

Source: Rediscovering God in America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 9-10 Dec 31, 2006

Our rights come from God, not from government

As the most consequential document of freedom in human history, the Declaration of Independence is the most important document held in the National Archives. It was influenced by the Magna Carta of 1215, a contract of rights between the British king and his barons generally regarded as the first step toward guaranteed liberties in Britain. However, the Declaration of Independence differs from the Magna Carta in one essential way: The Founding Fathers believed that our rights as human beings come from God, not from the kind or the state. Thus, they rejected the notion that power came through the monarch to the people; but rather, directly from God.

The Declaration of Independence contains four references to God: as lawmaker, as Creator, as Supreme Judge, and as Protector. The Declaration of Independence represents both the genesis and heart of American liberty. Our rights come from our Creator, not the government, sovereign, or King.

Source: Rediscovering God in America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 29-30 Dec 31, 2006

Contract With America: deep cuts in Medicare/Medicaid/taxes

Conventional wisdom says that the party in control of the White House usually loses congressional seats in the midterm elections. Newt Gingrich and his cohort of self-described Republican "revolutionaries" appeared eager to capitalize on the trend. In September, Gingrich stood on the steps of the Capitol, surrounded by like-minded members, to unveil his game plan for midterm victory: a "Contract With America." The Contract provided the basis for Republican proposals to abolish the Dept. of Education, make deep spending cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment and slash tax credits for the working poor.

The Contract was a strategy to nationalize local elections and turn congressional races into a referendum on Republican terms. Newt Gingrich's glee [was unmoderated on election] night. He would become the next Speaker of the House, the first Republican since 1954. He magnanimously offered to work with Democrats to push the Contract with American through Congress in record time.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.249-257 Nov 1, 2003

Increase federal limits on individual campaign contributions

Source: Congressional 1998 National Political Awareness Test Nov 1, 1998

Established systems are inherently hostile to change

A leader engaged in trying to bring about a transformation will find himself living in an environment hostile to his intentions. The system he is trying to reform, after all, is the established one. The old order, as old orders always do, will be fighting for its life and thus will be engaged in undertaking everything possible to stop any new system from emerging. If the leaders of an intended transformation relies on the information and judgments made available to him through the various means established in the old order, he will invariably find himself making the wrong decisions and doing the wrong things. Thus he must keep his vision rightly focused, his will fully engaged, and his self-discipline intact.
Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p. 14 Jul 2, 1998

Press plays “gotcha”; limit press briefings

It will surprise no one that our press briefings turned out to be an ongoing headache. They got to be little more than a game of “pin the tail on the Speaker.” The members of the press who turn up at these briefings, are only interested in what they call “gotcha,” that is, they were waiting for us to make a slip, any slip, so they could go back to the newsroom and tell everyone who they had tripped us up that day. As long as we kept putting ourselves out in the open, we were inviting them to try and score off us. With the help of our friends and allies, we were finally brought to our senses and closed down the press briefings.
Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p. 37-38 Jul 2, 1998

1995 government shutdown from GOP underestimating Clinton

To underestimate a politician like Clinton is a serious error, and it is an error we committed in 1995-96. In November, we sent him a stopgap spending bill that froze Medicare premiums, and he vetoed it on the grounds that it would hurt seniors. We sent a new bill without the Medicare provision but with a statutory commitment to a balanced budget. He signed it, ending the first of two government shutdowns. The commitment was later ignored.

We passed a bill funding the Department of the Interior, and he vetoed it, closing the national parks. Likewise, he vetoed bills covering the Departments of Health and Human Services, State, Justice, Labor, and Education, among others. We not only lost the battle over the legislation itself, but the far more important one for the public’s understanding and approval of what we were trying to do. The second shutdown, with stretched for three weeks over the 1995 Christmas holidays, seared into the public’s mind a deeply negative impression.

Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p. 56 Jul 2, 1998

1994 GOP victory destroyed bipartisanship

In 1994, with a relatively modest 230-205 majority, we lulled ourselves into the expectation that the liberals would decide they had to accept the judgment of the people and adjust their programs accordingly.

The liberals viewed us as interlopers who had somehow usurped what belonged to them by right. In their view, they had to attack us and drive us from power by any and all possible means, and in the shortest time possible.

This was a perfectly understandable response for liberals who had controlled the House for 60 of the last 64 years. Nor did we on our part do anything to mitigate their determination. On the contrary, we spoke and behaved as if there were little ground on which to build any kind of bipartisan cooperation. Sam Rayburn had famously said that to get along you had to go along. But we were in no mood either to get along or to go along. This principle worked only when people agreed on the basic things, but could not apply in the case of real ideological difference.

Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p. 65-66 Jul 2, 1998

Elected on anti-corruption platform in 1978

I won my congressional seat for the first time in 1978 and my campaigns focused on discussion of the ethics of elected officials. It was something about which I felt, and still feel, deeply. I accept that there are some people, highly decent themselves, who think that other problems should take precedence over the problem of corrupt politicians. Such people may have grown tired and resigned themselves or may perhaps be in the grip of some all-embracing ideological passion that for them takes precedence over any concern about corruption of this kind. I can understand both arguments, but both are wrong. The trustworthiness of our political leaders goes through the heart of our political culture to the very question of how much allegiance to their country can be demanded of ordinary citizens. Cynicism is corrosive of everything that our Constitution was meant to stand for and hence of our very democratic system.
Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p. 86 Jul 2, 1998

Government should take management lesson from private sector

Marianne went out to buy something that cost $15 and had to wait an hour and a half in line to do it. What Marianne was doing was renewing her GA driver’s license. Where in the private sector could anyone selling something get their customers to wait in line for an hour and a half?

When she described her wait to me, it occurred to me that we have been conditioned to keep two separate clocks in our heads, a clock with a second hand for private transactions and a clock that moves only in 15-minute increments for government offices.

One of the first things we have to learn is how to apply to the public sector the principles that have made the American economy the wonder of the world. The reason is the bottom line.

The public sector too, ought to be considering its bottom line, measured not in individual or corporate earnings but in terms of meeting goals to ensure a safe, prosperous, healthy, and free future for our children and grandchildren.

Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p.196-197 Jul 2, 1998

Rethink every aspect of bureaucracy

We need to rethink every aspect of our bureaucratized government to make sure it is really necessary. Four tests will help us accomplish this.
  1. Have we included the enormous potential of new scientific discoveries and their accompanying technologies?
  2. We must ask of every government effort: is it really necessary for government to be engaged in this?
  3. If government ought to be responsible for a particular program or function, is it necessary that the program be centralized in Washington, or would society be better off if it were devolved to state and local government?
  4. If it is decided that only the federal government can be in charge of something, are we implementing the program with the best applicable new science and technology?
Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p.202-203 Jul 2, 1998

Class mobility is key part of America’s genius

Part of the American genius has been that, at every level of society, people can improve their own lot. We have no caste system, no class requirements, no regulated professions, no barriers to entry. Despite the best efforts of modern elites to discount upward mobility and to argue that America is no different than Europe of other class-dominated cultures, the fact remains that we are an extraordinarily fluid society. In France, for example, almost all important government positions are held by graduates of the Ecole National d’Administration, an elite college that produces only a few graduates each year. In this country, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government might aspire to a similar status. But our society is so fluid and democratic that seven of our last ten Presidents did not attend elite colleges. Even a professor from a small college in Georgia can aspire to the highest levels of government.
Source: To Renew America, p. 41 Jul 2, 1995

Limit punitive damages; term limits on Congress.

Gingrich wrote the Contract with America:

[As part of the Contract with America, within 100 days we pledge to bring to the House Floor the following bills]:

The Common Sense Legal Reforms Act:
“Loser pays” laws, reasonable limits on punitive damages, and reform of product liability laws to stem the endless tide of litigation.
The Citizen Legislature Act:A first-ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators.
Source: Contract with America 93-CWA11 on Sep 27, 1994

Government is too big, too intrusive, too easy with money.

Gingrich wrote the Contract with America:

This year’s election offers the chance, after four decades of one-party control, to bring to the House a new majority that will transform the way Congress works. That historic change would be the end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public’s money. It can be the beginning of a Congress that respects the values and shares the faith of the American family.

Like Lincoln, our first Republican president, we intend to act “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.” To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace. To make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves.

    On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:
  1. Require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
  2. Select a major independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud, and abuse;
  3. Cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
  4. Limit the terms of all committee chairs;
  5. Ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
  6. Require committee meetings to be open to the public;
  7. Require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase
  8. Guarantee an honest accounting of our federal budget by implementing zero baseline budgeting.
Source: Contract with America 93-CWA2 on Sep 27, 1994

Other candidates on Government Reform: Newt Gingrich on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
Civil Rights
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Tax Reform

Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010