The Obama administration’s decision to rescind some work requirements for Americans receiving welfare is “a clear violation of the law,” Former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told Newsmax.
The Georgia Republican also asserted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “dishonest” claim that Mitt Romney paid no taxes for 10 years is an act of desperation — and says the Romney campaign should serve Chick-fil-A meals at the Republican National Convention to show support for its president’s statements backing traditional marriage.
President Barack Obama's administration has announced that it is opening up waivers to states from the work requirements contained in the Welfare Reform Act that then-Speaker Gingrich helped craft during the Bill Clinton presidency in the 1990s.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV on Thursday, Gingrich commented on the administration’s move.
Watch our exclusive interview. Story continues below.
“Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation, who’s probably the leading expert on welfare reform, said the Obama changes clearly gut the work requirements and put us back into a world where people could get money without doing anything,” Gingrich said.
“And most Americans agree that’s a very bad idea.
“There’s long been a tradition on the left of wanting to give people money without doing anything. Marvin Olasky wrote a brilliant book, ‘The Tragedy of American Compassion,’ which outlined this.
“Barack Obama in 1996 as a state senator was opposed to the work requirements. Even after President Bill Clinton agreed to sign the welfare reform bill, half the Democrats in the House, 101 members, voted no.
“Section 407 is the key. It says no one, not the president, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the governors, no one can waive the work requirement. And we wrote it that strongly because we so deeply distrusted the liberals who run many of the social welfare programs and thought they would in fact absolutely be in favor of waiving the requirements.”
Asked if the president is doing something illegal with the waivers, Gingrich responded: “Well, certainly. There’s a briefing from the Heritage Foundation which suggests that it is illegal to waive this. It’s a clear violation of the law and many people who are more expert than I am on the legality side would generally agree he does not have the kind of authority that they’re exercising here.”
Gingrich also addressed calls from some political observers for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to come out more boldly in response to Democrats’ attacks, including Reid’s unsupported allegation that Romney failed to pay taxes for 10 years.
“I think what you have is a very disciplined, methodical person,” Gingrich said in reference to Romney.
“They’ve been very aggressive in responding to Sen. Harry Reid’s dishonesty and I don’t think any reasonable American believes that Reid is anything less than dishonest in this entire attack. He has no proof. He has nobody he can bring up as a witness. He just made it up and I think that tells you the kind of desperation we are now dealing with and that we’re going to continue to see.”
Some pundits have been saying that Romney missed a big opportunity to come out in defense of Chick-fil-A and its president’s right to express his views on marriage. Asked if he views this as a critical error by Romney, Gingrich told Newsmax: “I think it would be useful for Romney at some point to just stop by a Chick-fil-A and order lunch.
Gingrich said he and his wife Callista were at the original Chick-fil-A in Hapeville, Ga., on Aug 1, the day that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee designated Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. "It was an enormous crowd," he said.
“I certainly think that the Romney campaign would be smart to serve Chick-fil-A at the convention for one occasion. I think that would send a pretty clear signal to people without having done very much except to make it happen.”
Gingrich has not been asked to speak at the GOP National Convention in Tampa even though as a presidential candidate he won South Carolina, got a very respectable 32 percent of the vote in Florida, and had strong showings in the South, particularly in Alabama and Mississippi. But Gingrich insisted he has no problem with that decision.
“I told the Romney people early on when we suspended our campaign that I was very happy and very comfortable not making a speech in Tampa,” he said.
“What I’m going to do instead is lead a workshop every morning from 10 to 12 and we’re going to have a series of very idea- and issue-oriented workshops. So if I’m leading eight hours of workshops it’s pretty hard for me to complain about 10 or 15 minutes in the evening.
“I feel like I will have more than enough opportunity to communicate the ideas and the values and the proposals that I think are important.”
Tea party-backed Republican have been winning Senate primaries, including Richard Mourdock in Indiana, Ted Cruz in Texas and Todd Akin in Missouri. Asked if the tea party will control the Senate in 2013, Gingrich responded: “There’s certainly going to be a very strongly tea party-influenced Senate.
“My guess is that over half the Republicans will have some ties to tea parties. That won’t be enough to run the Senate but it will certainly be enough to have a huge influence.”
In his Newsmax interview Gingrich also revealed the two candidates he would most like to see selected as Romney’s running mate
And he bitterly attacked a campaign ad linking Romney to a family’s loss of health insurance and a woman’s subsequent death from cancer
, terming it a vicious lie designed to divert attention from Obama’s handling of the struggling economy.
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