WASHINGTON – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) warned that tax reform could face the same fate as Obamacare repeal if the White House and Congress do not focus on communicating effectively with the American people before crafting the legislation.
Gingrich said President Reagan learned that “you have to move the American people” to pass legislation but many Republicans today have not adopted the same approach.
“Look at this whole mess with Obamacare. For seven months the focus has been on the Congress, but in the end the Congress isn’t the key. The key is the American people. If we had spent as much time educating the American people and communicating with the American people and then writing a bill, which reflected what the American people told us, we would have passed Obamacare’s repeal with a bipartisan majority because people back home would have said, ‘we want this new, better bill.’ We’re going to face the same challenge with the upcoming tax cuts,” Gingrich said at the Young America’s Foundation national conservative student conference Tuesday.
“The tax cuts have to be designed so they are understandable by the American people and they have to be designed so the American people, upon understanding them, go, ‘I want that.’ Now, if you write the right tax cut bill then millions of people are going to go to their congressman or their senator and they’re going to say, ‘I want you to vote for this bill,’” he added.
Gingrich said conservatives have paid too much attention to the three Republican senators who voted against “skinny” repeal and have ignored the 48 Democratic senators who opposed the bill.
“Trying to intimidate McCain is just a dead loser,” Gingrich said after pointing out that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has voted against the repeal of Obamacare in the past. “In Murkowski’s case, she lost a primary. She won as an independent on a write-in vote and in a sense that’s what you want. You want senators who are independent.”
Gingrich encouraged the public to read Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen.
“It’s a brilliant book. It says that by the day after the election she had come up with a reason she had lost. It was Comey’s press conferences and the Russians, and of course all of her senior staff who were the people who lost the election are all going, ‘That’s right, that’s right, it was them. They did it. You should be really mad at them because they did it. It wasn’t us who you paid a lot of money even though we’re idiots. They did it.’ But it’s a fascinating book, which I recommend,” he said.
Gingrich said it’s a “mistake” for Hillary Clinton to release a book titled What Happened to explain why she lost to President Trump.
“I think this is a mistake for her to try to write a book to explain what happened because it’s either going to come across as whiny or really angry, but it’s not going to come off as a calm, dispassionate, you know, ‘I grew up very young and never did quite get it and Bill always had me confused and if Obama hadn’t been president I would have been president first but he beat me and ever since I got beat in ’08 I’ve never quite recovered.’ Maybe it’s her version of a 27-step program or something,” he quipped.
Gingrich, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, was asked to respond to claims that he destroyed civility in the political process while he was speaker of the House.
“The academics who believe I destroyed civility are almost all Democrats who thought it was deeply inappropriate that we won because they thought it was perfectly civil if Tip O’Neill as speaker said that Ronald Reagan had ice water in his veins – that was a sign of civility because, after all, he’s a good Irish guy and couldn’t possibly be negative. Second, I try to remind everybody Hamilton is about the vice president of the United States shooting the secretary of the Treasury: now that’s uncivil. We have not had a major cabinet officer shot by the vice president in modern times. So when people say to me, ‘oh, civility is really declining.’ Compared to what?” Gingrich replied.
“I’ll bet 90 percent of you talk privately with a vulgarity which your grandparents would be stunned by because it’s the common culture. I mean, we live in the age of the Kardashians, and so this is part of why Trump won. I mean, Trump was the one guy on stage who got it. It didn’t matter how much of a thug he was. This was reality TV and people had decided they were used to reality TV, and this became a version of Survivor,” he added.
Gingrich compared Trump to President Andrew Jackson, whose portrait Trump hung in the Oval Office.
“I do think he’s [Trump] a remarkable figure and I do think he is at least as big of a change in the pattern of history as Reagan was and maybe bigger. I think he in many ways resembles Andrew Jackson and is worth thinking of in terms of the level of disruption that Andrew Jackson made,” he said.
Gingrich applauded Trump for appointing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, which “may have justified the whole presidential campaign.” He mentioned that illegal southern border crossings are down more than 75 percent since Trump took office.
“If you look at the dramatic drop in the number of people crossing our southern border, there’s been sort of a psychological wall built longer before a physical wall and it’s had a direct impact,” he said.
Gingrich praised the Trump administration for “repealing 16 regulations for every new regulation.”
“The estimate is already that the Trump system has saved billions and billions of dollars in private sector and local government and other regulatory costs by continuing to repeal, so that’s a zone I think they can claim some real success in,” he said.