Hopeful Republican presidential nominee Newt Gingrich told his former constituents at that if elected he’d attempt turn back the clock to his days as former House Speaker.
“First let’s go back to 1998,” he said. “We need to control spending, reform government and balance the federal budget for a generation. This isn’t a theory. It’s what we did. So we know it’s doable. We in this room have been there. This was in our lifetime. Cobb County can take some credit for it because, candidly, if you hadn’t elected me it wouldn’t have happened. Clearly we were all in this together.”
Gingrich served as Georgia’s Sixth Congressional Representative for 20 years, four of those as Speaker of the House. While Gingrich doesn’t have a time machine, he does a have a blueprint that he thinks can return the nation’s gas prices, unemployment rate and deficit levels to what they were 14 years ago.
“Working with Bill Clinton how did we create 11 million jobs in the four years that I was Speaker?” he said “I just want to get back to where we were when I left the Speakership (…) How do you do that? Cut taxes, cut regulations, develop American energy and you praise the people creating jobs.”
Concerning taxes, Gingrich said he supports a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate and an optional flat tax. He would also seek to eliminate corporate gains and death taxes.
When it comes to deregulation, Gingrich said that if he received the Republican nomination he’d have his fellow Republican House and Senate candidates pledge to stay in Washington in the days leading up to the Jan. 20 inauguration. That way, if elected, his first executive orders would be to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd Frank Bill.
Gingrich said the Dodd Frank Bill is particularly harmful to Georgia, which one audience member pointed out has been called “ground zero for bank failures.”
“The Dodd Frank Bill has been a total disaster,” he said. “It’s destroying independent banking, crippling small business and driving down housing prices. I have been surprised it has not become a much bigger issue. The way Dodd Frank was written, the biggest banks are actually getting bigger. So everybody we were told in 2008 was too big to fail is now bigger, but the liberals love it because now they’re micromanaged by the Treasury Department. So it’s an invitation to corruption. So what you now have is a tremendous bias among federal regulators against housing markets.
Gingrich’s stance on oil deregulation also has the potential to impact Georgia. In order to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil he said he’d sign into law measures that would allow the construction of the Keystone Pipeline and drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Then Gingrich said he’d set his sights on the Atlantic coast.
“Three signatures and you get 2.3 million barrels a day for production,” he said “And that’s before we start exploring. It’s very probable that off of Georgia, given what we discovered in South Carolina, there’s enough natural gas that you in fact would not only have $80,000 a year jobs developing, you could generate enough royalties you could actually pay for the modernization of the Savannah Port and not even notice it.”
, asked Gingrich how he plans to keep America’s workforce competitive. The answer, Gingrich said, lies in taxes.
“The reason I’m for 100 percent expensing the tax code is I want to have a really dramatic incentive for new equipment,” he said. “I want it to be continually the most modern, the most productive and most efficient systems in the world. If you’re going to do that you’ve got to have constant training for people.”
Gingrich said that learning shouldn’t stop at the completion of a degree or a technical program. America’s workforce needs to be keeping current with its global competition, which is why Gingrich supports mandating that beneficiaries of unemployment compensation undergo job training while they collect their benefits.
“Everybody will learn all their lives, which also means you’ve got to restructure the education system and make it much more customer-centered, much more flexible in hours and much more prepared to be built around the needs,” he said. “If you look at various quick-start programs, they’re integral to how we get businesses. I haven’t looked at in detail, but I bet there’s a training component to Caterpillar coming to Athens, Ga. Business realize they’ve got to change.”
But Gingrich won’t bring his blueprint to fruition if he can’t land the Republican nomination. So far the former Speaker has only won one presidential primary—South Carolina. While Gingrich said that from a financial standpoint he can stay in the race through the November election, he still thinks scoring a win in Georgia on Super Tuesday is crucial.
“I have to win Georgia, I think, to be credible in the race,” he said. “Because if I win Georgia, the following week we have Alabama and Mississippi and I think I’ll win both of those and we have a good opportunity to win in Kansas. Somebody said there have been eight changes of frontrunners so far. I went from being dead in June without ever buying an ad. But by December, thanks to the power of visionary ideas, I was ahead in Gallup by 15 and in Rasmussen by 21.”
Georgia voters go to the polls for the presidential preference primary Tuesday, March 6.