Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich today outlined a series of proposals modeled after the 1994 “Contract with America” that vaulted him into the House speakership, including a revamp of the tax code and methods to replace last year’s health-care overhaul.
Gingrich, who released his 10-part plan at a town hall meeting today in Des Moines, Iowa, is banking on the announcement to revive his bid for the White House, which polls show lags far behind top rivals Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
His 1994 contract provided an agenda and unifying campaign message for Republicans before they won the House majority in that year’s November elections for the first time in four decades. It also earned Gingrich, of Georgia, a reputation as an idea-generator for his party.
As part of today’s “21st Century Contract With America,” Gingrich proposes the repeal of financial-sector regulations as part of changes designed to curb government rules on business. Laws that he would sidetrack include the overhaul of financial rules approved last year to respond to the financial crisis and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which aims protect investors from fraudulent accounting by corporations. He also calls for abolishing the National Labor Relations Board.
The flagging U.S. economy can only recover if a host of tax, regulatory and other changes occur that turn back the scope of the federal government, Gingrich said in an outline of the plan posted on his campaign web site.
Principles of 1994
“We understood these principles when we won the first Republican majority in the House in 40 years in 1994,” said Gingrich, who served as speaker for four years beginning in January 1995. “Balanced budgets, streamlined government and the biggest capital gains tax cut in history led to unemployment falling to under 4 percent by 2000.”
In polls of Republican voters, the former Georgia congressman has routinely ranked behind Perry, Romney, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann and Texas Representative Ron Paul. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who hasn’t announced a bid, also tops Gingrich.
A Sept. 9-12 Bloomberg National Poll found Gingrich won the support of 4 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Perry garnered the backing of 26 percent, while Romney had the support of 22 percent.
Repeal and Replace
In his proposal, Gingrich called for repealing the health- care law that is President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment. Gingrich said he would replace the law’s requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty with either a “generous” tax credit or the ability to deduct a portion of the value of their health coverage from what they owe the government.
He also advocates health policies adopted by other Republican politicians, including allowing health-care consumers to purchase insurance across state lines, expansion of tax- advantaged health savings accounts and curbs to “frivolous” medical malpractice lawsuits.
On taxes, he seeks to reduce the corporate tax rate to 12.5 percent from 35 percent, end taxes on estates and on capital gains, and allow companies to write off all of the costs of new equipment in one year. Individual taxpayers would be given the option of filing their tax returns under an optional “flat tax” that offers a lower income tax rate but limits tax deductions.
Gingrich said he wants to balance the federal budget without tax increases, asserting that higher economic growth could generate revenue needed to accomplish that goal.
“I’m for more revenue through royalties from oil exploration, not from tax hikes,” Gingrich said on Twitter after the Iowa event began.
On entitlement programs, he calls for allowing younger Americans the option of putting some of their Social Security savings into personal savings accounts, embracing an idea that Republicans in Congress refused to advance under former President George W. Bush.
Gingrich’s bid for the Republican nomination suffered a setback in June when more than a dozen of his campaign staffers resigned after disagreeing with him over strategy and the role of his wife, Callista. Those who left included his national co- chairman and his campaign manager.
--With assistance from Kristin Jensen in Washington. Editors: Jeanne Cummings, Don Frederick
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