The Corner

Gingrich: ‘Paychecks versus Food Stamps’

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich unveiled his GOP strategy memo on Wednesday in Minnesota. Gingrich advises Republicans to frame the mid-terms as a choice between “the Democratic party of food stamps and the Republican party of paychecks.”

Earlier today, Gingrich spoke with National Review Online about his “closing argument.” Gingrich, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, is in the midst of a twelve-city “Jobs Here, Jobs Now” tour that will take him to, among other places, Iowa and South Carolina. “Just bouncing around trying to elect candidates,” he says.

Gingrich predicts that Republicans will make major gains this fall if they can articulate a “clear cut, vivid choice” to voters as November approaches. “It strikes me that the case should be pretty clear that the Democrats’ policies are job-killing, and that it’s no accident that at the same time that we have extraordinarily high unemployment, we have more Americans on food stamps than at any time in American history,” he says. “People are being driven to food stamps by the Democrats’ job-killing policies.”

House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) slammed Gingrich’s document on Wednesday, calling it a “subliminal message” and an “unfortunate course to go down,” before adding that the government gets “the biggest bang for the buck when you do food stamps and unemployment insurance — the biggest bang for the buck.” Gingrich tells NRO that Pelosi “doesn’t understand anything about how free markets, entrepreneurship, and small businesses operate.”

“She thinks that this is all bad luck,” he says. “With regards to her comment that food stamps are actually an effective way to stimulate the economy, well, I don’t know any economist who would agree with that. It shows you how inaccurate they are about the very nature of the American economy.” Gingrich contends that Democrats’ economic policies are worse than those of Herbert Hoover.

“Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate for four years and they have been in charge of the White House for two years,” he notes. “Their policies include high taxes, anti-business language, a massive governmental bureaucracy over the financial system, a massive governmental bureaucracy over the health system, an effort to impose massive energy costs, and a passionate belief in government-employee unions and in centralizing power in Washington.”

Gingrich continues: “When I go around the country talking to businesses, whether they are big or small, I ask if they are going to hire more people. None of them have any doubt that these policies are job-killing policies.” To win these disgruntled voters over to the GOP, Gingrich urges Republicans to pose sharp questions on the trail: “Do you want the party that will repeal Obamacare or the party that is going to try to implement it? Do you want the party that wants to keep taxes low, or do you want the party that wants to raise taxes? Do you want the party that is trying to create jobs, or do you want the party that is trying to create big government while killing jobs?” If candidates do that, Gingrich says they can make November 2 “boil down to a very simple symbol: paychecks versus food stamps.”

Turning to a little political shop talk, I ask Gingrich about many Republicans’ concern that a senior official in the Obama administration may have, as the New York Times puts it, “improperly accessed the tax records of Koch Industries, an oil company whose owners are major conservative donors.” Gingrich says such an action by a White House official would be “very much like the Nixon White House: If you cross these guys, they try to hurt you. They have brought a Chicago-machine mentality to the White House for the first time in American history, and it’s very, very dangerous.”

Briefly, I ask Gingrich about another potential 2012 contender: former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Palin has been embroiled in a media kerfuffle this week about whether she is “qualified” to be president — a kerfuffle stirred by recent comments from Joe Miller, the Alaska GOP Senate nominee, and leaked emails about the matter from Palin’s husband, Todd.

Does Gingrich think that Palin is “qualified” for the presidency? While he has not reviewed the back-and-forth between Miller, Palin, and others, he is quick to call it a “nonsense argument.”

“As far as I’m concerned, she is fine,” Gingrich says. “She is not disqualified to run for president. I would rather have her policies than Obama’s policies.” Palin, he adds, has been an “effective governor and an effective mayor, as well as an effective nationwide articulator of her values.”

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