Gingrich Redux?
Before conservatives hail Newt as the GOP’s savior, ten things to consider


Katrina Trinko

TARP. Gingrich did not initially support TARP, but before the legislation’s passage he came around to supporting it, “sadly and reluctantly,” concerned about the financial impact if no bailout was approved. He did still blast Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, saying in a statement that “Having a former chairman of Goldman Sachs preside over disbursing hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street is a terrible concept and inevitably will lead to crony capitalism and the appearance of — if not the actual existence of — corruption.”

The Fairness Doctrine. In 1987 Gingrich co-sponsored legislation that would have re-implemented the Fairness Doctrine. (Ultimately, Ronald Reagan vetoed the legislation, which would have mandated that U.S. broadcasters always feature both sides of an issue.) However, 20 years later, Gingrich opposed the Fairness Doctrine. “Let’s be clear here,” he said on Fox News when John Kerry proposed re-instituting the Fairness Doctrine. “There is no Fairness Doctrine. That was the government-censorship doctrine, and they want to re-impose government censorship.”

Tax credits. Gingrich has favored plenty of tax credits over the years, ranging from tax credits to car companies for making clean-energy vehicles to a tax credit for buying home computers to be used for certain purposes. “In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” wrote the Club for Growth in its analysis of Gingrich’s record over the years, “Gingrich proposed a six-month, $1,000-per-person tax credit for 50 percent of the cost of personal travel more than 100 miles from one’s home. The idea sounds nice, but just as Cash for Clunkers only expedited the purchase of cars people were going to buy anyway (at non-car-buying taxpayers’ expense), Gingrich’s Cash for Getaways would only have subsidized trips people were going to make anyway, enabling a transfer payment to frequent travelers from families without the time or inclination to travel.” Gingrich’s idea, the Club concluded, was “not a fiscally conservative policy” and was “indicative of an approach Gingrich has frequently advocated.”

Climate change. On Fox News last week, Gingrich called the commercial he shot with Nancy Pelosi “the dumbest single thing I’ve done in years.” In the 2008 commercial, which featured Gingrich and Pelosi chummily sitting on a sofa in front of the Capitol, Gingrich said, “We do agree our country must take action to address climate change. If enough of us demand action from our leaders, we can spark the innovation that we need.” In a 2007 interview on PBS’s Frontline, Gingrich indicated support for cap-and-trade, saying, “I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support.” Fast forward to 2009, when Gingrich strongly opposed Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade program.

Rejecting the Ryan plan. In a May appearance on Meet the Press, Gingrich nearly kamikazed his fledging campaign by saying, “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” in reference to a question about a key component of Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan. Gingrich told Rush Limbaugh in an interview a few days later that “It was not a reference to Paul Ryan. There was no reference to Paul Ryan in that answer.” Gingrich also apologized to Ryan and stressed that he would have voted for the budget that included Ryan’s Medicare plan.

None of this is to discount Gingrich’s impressive conservative accomplishments over the years. But now that he’s back at or near the top of the polls, these issues and more will become increasingly prominent.

Katrina Trinko is an NRO reporter.