Tags: Fiscal Cliff | gingrich | gop | upper | hand

Gingrich to Newsmax: GOP Gave Obama Upper Hand

By Todd Beamon   |   Friday, 21 Dec 2012 12:11 AM

Former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told Newsmax late on Thursday that he was perplexed by House Speaker John Boehner’s move to postpone the vote on his highly controversial plan that would prevent tax hikes for everyone except those making more than $1 million a year.

“I don’t understand what the strategy is of the House Republicans, so it’s hard to judge what they’re doing,” the former GOP House Speaker told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “I don’t know what they’re trying to do.

“I’ve talked with several House members here today — and I don’t think many of them have any idea of what they’re doing. Literally have no idea,” Gingrich added. “Several members have no idea.”

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“I’m not worried about this week or next week. I’m worried about four years from now — and I don’t see the strategy in place that is going to catch up with Obama,” he said.

Gingrich was among several Capitol Hill observers asked by Newsmax to respond to Boehner’s late-evening decision. The move to call off the vote came after the Ohio Republican called a short meeting of the House Republican Conference to determine whether he had enough vote to pass the bill.

“The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass,” Boehner said in a statement. “Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.

“The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the Jan. 1 tax-rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation's crippling debt. The Senate must now act.”

Boehner’s postponement topped a chaotic day of intense arm-twisting of members of the GOP rank and file. Several Senate Republicans, including Rob Portman of Ohio, were called on to press their House colleagues to support the Boehner plan.

Gingrich told Newsmax, however, that the negotiating process has given President Barack Obama the upper hand. “They have spent the entire time since the election negotiating — and that puts the president in the strongest position.”

He likened Obama to being the fictional Gulliver in Jonathan Swift’s classic “Gulliver’s Travels” and the GOP to being the Lilliputians. “You needed all of the Lilliputians to tie Gulliver down.

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“If every House committee and House subcommittee had hearings every day on the waste in government — if every week there was something new about government wastefulness, there would be a very different tone to these negotiations,” Gingrich said. “It would be very difficult to demand more money from the American people.”

The House move also brought praise from several conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, which earlier this week attacked the concessions Boehner made in the plan.

“We are pleased that the House Republicans did not vote to raise taxes,” spokesman Barney Keller told Newsmax late Thursday. “An anti-growth tax increase would not have solved our fiscal problems — and it would have killed jobs.

“The House needs to focus on a pro-growth, tax-reform, entitlement-reform agenda, which enjoys broad support among Americans,” he said.

Americans for Prosperity told Newsmax that it was among many organizations that emailed House members asking them not to support Plan B, said spokesman Levi Russell.

“We have been opposing and continually opposing the plan,” he said. “We just think it’s a bad plan. It does not address the fiscal cliff. It does not address our fiscal issues. It does nothing to control out-of-control spending.

“The tax increases are always real and always immediate — but the spending cuts are predicted to take place in some future Congress.

“The Senate should take the bill that the House has already passed, pass it — and the president should sign it,” Russell recommended. “And, then next year, Congress needs to begin real, substantive entitlement reform and tax reform to put this country back on the road to prosperity.”

Meanwhile, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett told Fox News host Sean Hannity that the GOP now was in a tenable position because of the vote postponement.

“The circumstances and conditions are not good,” Bennett told Hannity. “What happens next? Obama takes us over the cliff and then he proposes to restore all the Bush tax cuts for everybody except the top 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent.

“What do Republicans do? Do they vote against it? I don’t think they can vote against it.

“Who’s going to get the credit? Who’s going to get the blame?” Bennett asked. “It matters because we have elections coming up. We need the American people to support us.

“We’re not in a good position. We were not in a good position if we had gotten Plan B. We’re not in a good position, now that Plan B has been rejected.”

Bennett predicted that Obama will win the opportunity to raise taxes. “He will get what he wants — and it’s up to the American people to decide if they want to live with it.

“If ‘B’ goes down, then Boehner’s weakened — and our only choice is to explain what it is we’ve done and why the president’s has taken us over the cliff,” Bennett added. “It is a steep climb, and it’s a haul — but we know about the Obama Machine, what the media will do. This is what worries me.”

The challenge, in this scenario, falls to the Republicans, he said.

“We need to go back and make the argument — but my guess is that we’re not going to make the argument successfully. We’re not going to prevail until people see what Barack Obama has wrought,” Bennett said. “They put him in. They’re not going to be punished for putting him in — but it could take a year or two.

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“We’re not in a good position. Was this the right thing to do? Maybe it was, but what we have to do is live with the consequences, explain why we’re getting these consequences — and have people face up to reality.

“This president is wrecking the country,” Bennett told Hannity. “That’s what I said all during this campaign. Not enough people agreed with me. The American people have to see the consequences of what they voted for in November.”

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