Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday that President Barack Obama’s jobs speech last week was “pathetic” and a central point of any Republican presidential debate should be what Congress can do immediately to revitalize the nation’s tumbling economy.
Gingrich spoke after the Tea Party/CNN Republican debate to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, who asked him if there was any subject he felt was not sufficiently explored and what question needed to be answered in future forums.
“Look, I think the emphasis [should be] on: What should we do right now? President Obama’s speech was so pathetic — his proposals are so political — that we have to confront how weak this economy is, how dangerous it is, and the fact that it could get much worse,” Gingrich said. “And I think that any of these debates ought to have a very substantial section on what would you do right now. What do you encourage the Congress to do right now.
“Former labor secretary Robert Reich’s comments this morning — Bill Clinton’s secretary of Labor — warning that you could see a dramatic increase in unemployment, is something which should sober every American and make us want the Congress to take action, despite the president,” he said “And force the president into a series of choices to either pass things that will create jobs or to veto them and prove how deeply committed he is to being a one-term president.”
Van Susteren then asked Gingrich why he was the only debate participant who discussed wasteful government spending.
“Well, first of all, I don’t know why others aren’t talking [about] it,” Gingrich said “I do want to say, by the way, that Governor Palin’s speech in Iowa last weekend on crony capitalism and on the problems of both parties is a very, very important speech.
“I think it was maybe one of the more important speech she’s ever given, and I think it raised a series of very profound questions that all of us — Democrat and Republican — have to wrestle with as citizens,” he said, adding that when he was House speaker there were many efforts to curb unwarranted spending.
“The funniest one: I campaigned in 1996 carrying an ice bucket because one of the things we did is we used to have people who literally would deliver ice to every committee office and every congressional office,” Gingrich continued. “And we abolished those jobs and suggested that refrigerators had been invented, you know, almost 100 years earlier and that, probably, you could get ice without having a person bring a pail of ice by every morning.
“And it was — I know it sounds crazy — but it was a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar savings, which back then in the House budget was real money,” he said. “We also totally overhauled the management of the House, we totally overhauled the way in which the police department functioned, we eliminated a number of smaller committees, and we worked very hard to bring the congressional budget down as part of a general effort to move to a balanced budget.”
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