OTR Interviews

Newt Gingrich on Dow Dive, Getting Economy Back on Track

GOP presidential candidate on how he would turn economy around

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Well, it's been an absolutely brutal day on Wall Street today, to say the least; the worst day since the economic collapse in 2008. Now investors are apparently shaken over our struggling economy. So what's the answer? How can we get our economy back on track?

Joining us is presidential contender and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Good evening, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I want to know how to get back on track, and if you were president of the United States, but I want the fast answer; I don't want the long-term one about how we need to get rid of regulations that's going to take three years. I don't want to hear those long-term things because people are really desperate. They're unemployed, 9.2, maybe more tomorrow. So what's the fastest way to get us back on track?

NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, we do know how to do this. The fastest way would be to have the Congress come back in, immediately pass an American energy bill liberating the oil, gas, natural gas and others to go out and find energy overnight. In western Pennsylvania, where they're doing that, they've created thousands and thousands of new jobs in the last two years.

Second, repeal the Dodd-Frank bill. You could do it in one day in the House and two or three days in the Senate. You would liberate every small bank in America. You'd raise the price of housing overnight. You would give every small business a sense of hope. It's a 2,300-page monstrosity that does to financial services what "Obama care" does to health care.

Third, I think you have to look at a serious tax program fundamentally different than Washington thinks about. We ought to go to zero capital gains, which would attract hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the U.S. We ought to go to a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, which ironically would get General Electric to pay more taxes than they pay at the higher 35 percent. We should go to 100 percent expensing, so that companies could write off all new equipment, farmers could write off all new equipment in one year.

These kind of things, these are real changes. And the challenge you have with this administration is that it wants to go in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, virtually everything that President Obama and his appointees believe in is a kind of bureaucratic socialism, where they want to micromanage the entire country from Washington, D.C. And the fact is, that kills jobs.

VAN SUSTEREN: How much of that is sort of a Democratic ideology? And I asked this of also Senator Rick Santorum. And how much is President Obama? And I guess the sort of the way I distinguish the question is, if it were a different Democratic president in office, would there be a different -- is this unique to President Obama, or is this just the sort of the Democratic philosophy on how to do business?

GINGRICH: Well, I think it's partly both. You know, Dodd and Frank represented a big government Washington-centered model. So did Harry Reid. So did Nancy Pelosi. But if you go back to when I was speaker, it's fair to say that Bill Clinton was dramatically more realistic and substantially more moderate than President Obama is. Clinton had, after all, governed in Arkansas. He spent 12 years as a governor working with a conservative state legislature. He had campaigned, founding the Democratic Leadership Council, to move the party to the center. So I do think that a lot of this is Obama, but also the people around him. He -- almost all of his appointees are very radical, anti-business, believers in bureaucratic socialism, whether it is the National Labor Relations Board attacking Boeing in South Carolina or it is the Environmental Protection Agency trying to control the whole economy or it is the Food and Drug Administration crippling the development of new medicines and new solutions. I mean, at every one of these places, you turn around, it just gets worse and worse. And Dodd-Frank, along with Obamacare, are the two models of really bad legislation, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, two...

GINGRICH: ...they are crippling the economy. Go ahead.

VAN SUSTEREN: The two of the -- two of the three things that you suggested because I'm actually a little impatient now with trying to get our economy turned around -- I think we -- you know -- you know, we've waited now since February of '09 on the stimulus bill, and things are getting, you know, far -- I think for a lot of Americans, they're getting a lot tougher.

Two of the -- two of the things that you mentioned, one is the tax code, bringing the capital gains tax down to zero -- assuming that's a good idea, or even the other one about Dodd-Frank -- those aren't things that the president can do with simply, you know, an executive order. You know, and we've seen how Washington works. I mean, things don't move particularly well over here. I don't know if you've noticed. It's been a little bit chaotic here in a couple -- last couple weeks, months, years, lifetimes.

GINGRICH: Look, if tomorrow turns out to be as bad as today all around the world -- this, after all, started in Europe with a sell-off brought on, I think, by a realization that Italy could find itself in deep trouble, Spain could be in deep trouble, the euro could be under enormous pressure. And as people around the world start to realize, if the U.S. economy is not recovering, and there's no evidence that it is, if the European economy is not recovering, if the Japanese economy is not recovering, all of sudden, all of the expectations of a better future just get stopped in their tracks.

If we have another couple really bad days -- and this will sound very bold -- the president ought to consider bringing the Congress back for a special session very narrowly focused on jobs. And this will be very controversial on the left, but the fact is, if you were to repeal Dodd- Frank this week, you would see banks opening up. You would see small business opening up. You'd see housing improving within a week.

If we were to liberate federal land and allow people to explore for gas and oil and for other minerals, you would see people investing within 48 hours.

The thing about markets, as we've seen the last week, markets can move fast. The president made a joke about discovering that there were no shovel-ready projects. That's because it was a bureaucracy. But when you're in the free enterprise system, people analyze, people respond, people move their resources with astonishing speed. And if they saw the U.S. move towards a genuine pro-investment, pro-jobs, pro-small business environment, you would see, I think, resources shift very fast.

In the Reagan administration, they launched seven years of recovery that the equivalent for our generation would be 25 million new jobs. That's how big the change can be.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know if your ideas about repealing Dodd-Frank is correct. I will -- I mean, that I'll leave to the ones who make decisions. But the thing that really that I think is urgent and that I agree with you is I wish the president would ask the House and the Senate to come back because this is a crisis for most Americans. Jobs is the way they put food on the take. This is an emergency. And breaking news, we all report to the studio or to the scene of the breaking news, and this is a crisis for many Americans right now. And they've all gone on their recess and it is beyond me how they could do that.

GINGRICH: Well, think about this. The president is going on a week- long bus tour of the Midwest. I mean, it's almost like a fantasy tour. The fact is, if the president is serious about job creation, first of all, he had better come up with a lot bigger proposals than we're seeing. You don't get out of 9.2 percent unemployment, you don't get out of -- today it was announced the largest number of Americans on food stamps in history. I've said now for six months this is the most effective food stamp president in American history. That sounds like it's an attack. It's just a statement of fact. As his administration kills jobs, they are driving Americans onto food stamps. Most Americans would rather have a paycheck.

But the real challenge is this. I don't think President Obama can give up his left-wing ideology and can give up his left-wing allies and can actually try to do something that works in a free market. And that's the dilemma you have in Washington today. Do we know how to get jobs? Absolutely.

I was at the -- at the -- in Lynn (ph) County, which is Cedar Rapids, today, and the Lynn Eagles is a business group that got together. I talked to all the business leaders there. They knew how to do it. I was tonight at an event at Greg Gansky's (ph) house in Des Moines with a lot of business leaders. They know how to do it. They're eager to go back into it. They hate not being able to create jobs.

VAN SUSTEREN: We're going to take a quick break...

GINGRICH: And the president ought to listen to people who create jobs.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we got to take a quick break. You're not going anywhere. We'll stick around for another segment, if you please. We have much more with you, sir.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAN SUSTEREN: We are back presidential contender and former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, this week of course the debt ceiling was extended. Had you been handling this, would you have handled it as the president did if you were speaker of the House did, or would you have handled as Speaker Boehner had?

GINGRICH: I don't want to second guess Speaker Boehner, because I can't imagine trying to negotiate with President Obama. He is so radically different from Bill Clinton that whatever experiences I had getting to a balanced budget I don't think apply here. I would say as president, if it had been president Gingrich working with Mitch McConnell and with John Boehner, we would have solved this very early and relatively easily, but that's partially because we have common values. We believe in a balanced budget. We believe in less spending. We believe in lower taxes and a bigger economy.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me stop you there.

GINGRICH: He is the president, and you have this brand new Republican house driven by the election of 2010, and a Senate that is halfway in between. And that's what made it I think so very, very complicated.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me put a wrench in. Let's assume you didn't have a Speaker Boehner and Mitch McConnell over in the Senate. Let's assume that you had a Senator Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and not it is going to be smooth sailing. Would you have handled it differently?

GINGRICH: I think that I would have taken a lesson from Ronald Reagan. Reagan always led Washington by leading the American people. He didn't actually negotiate with Tip O'Neill. He didn't try to maneuver inside Washington. His job, as he used to put it, was to shine the light on the American people so they would turn up the heat on Congress.

What we're lacking now is a clear understanding of how to create jobs, which is job one. You got to get in economy growing. You will never balance the budget at 9.2 percent unemployment.

Two, we need a general approach to how you are going to reshape government. And I worry about this select committee because I'm afraid if they don't have very bold new proposals, they will stumble into a point where everyone will be told if you don't vote for a tax increase, horrible things will happen.

And I would say every conservative should repeal if there's some backdoor effort to create tax increases out of this select committee, because it would be a betrayal of everything the 2010 elect was about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up very shortly is the Iowa straw poll. As I understand, you haven't bought a booth, you haven't paid for a speaking position, yet you are going in the poll. Am I wrong on that?

GINGRICH: No, you are exactly right.

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: And the delegates get selected in January. We have scarce resources. Several people are going to spend several million trying to win this I wish them well. We'll do as well as we do, whatever that means. And we are aimed entirely at January. We are campaigning very steadily out here. And we'll be back again next week and spend most of the week here in Iowa. We'll be back again and again this fall.

But I think from my standpoint I want to focus on when delegates are selected, and that starts at the caucuses in January.

VAN SUSTEREN: I sort of have this sense, and correct me if I'm wrong, the Iowa Republican Party has its foot on the throat, to use an expression of all candidates, because it is quite costly to participate if you don't participate and bring in all your people, you are not going to do well and then the day after, we are all going to say who the front-runners are when someone may have had a deliberate decision or doesn't have the funds or whatever. It isn't cheap to be part of this as a candidate, is it?

GINGRICH: No. In 1996, the person who tied for first place dropped out by January. This poll sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn't matter. In 2008, or 2007, John McCain got 87 votes, he came in 7th. He ended up being the nominee.

So it is a party fundraising device. I've raised a great deal of money for the Iowa Republican Party over the years, happy to come back and raise more. This isn't the place where I want to raise money. I'm talking about serious ideas and issues. I will be at the state fair. We'll be in the parade. We will also be at Ames for the debate on FOX next Thursday, then I'll be back at Ames on Saturday morning.

But I'm there to greet delegates, to begin to pick up delegates for January. And we are getting a good reaction. We had a great session in Cedar Rapids today. We had a session in decorum and the Mitchell County Fair last weekend. And we are having a great time tonight in Des Moines.

VAN SUSTEREN: You and Senator Santorum, Congressman Ron Paul, and businessman Herman Cain are getting a little heat because your campaign t- shirts we made outside the United States in comparison to Pawlenty, Romney, Bachmann, Huntsman and Obama. You are shaking your head.

GINGRICH: Because in my case, it was baloney. Everything which has been made officially for the campaign that is available at Newt.org, you go to the shop at Newt.org, it's all made in the U.S. We had a volunteer in Atlanta who in a rush order ordered from an Atlanta print shop. The Atlanta print shop said nothing about where the t-shirts came from. They printed the "Newt 2012" t-shirts. That's the only occasion.

And in fact, when that was reported, the reporter who reported it knew that everything else that we had officially bought had been made in the U.S. You can go to Newt.org and check it yourself.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that a legitimate concern? Should the American people, should they expect that the candidates for the race buy American in light of this economy and all the problems going on from this day forward?

GINGRICH: Let me say this. We have 14 million unemployed, three wars in the Middle East, a $2 trillion deficit, an economy in danger of sliding into a deeper depression. For any of our major networks to engage in gotcha junk reporting, as opposed to trying to figure out what would these candidates do to solve this stuff. These are --

VAN SUSTEREN: I tell you why I don't think it was junk, and I understand your explanation, but if you are going out there and tell us how important it is, and not just you, but everybody on such things, is you need to sort of police your own organization. If you are going to say buy American, we sort of expect you all to do the same.

GINGRICH: In Ron Paul's case he was pretty blunt. He's for the world market. He said it is not an issue to him.

I'm suggesting to you an amazing percent of political reporting isn't about the historic things -- we are in the middle of one of the great historic changes in American history. Whether it is Dodd-Frank or it's Obamacare, or it's the EPA, a tremendous range of issues, we need to find some method of talking with each other as people and really trying to of this country's problems.

VAN SUSTEREN: We are getting the music. Mr. Speaker, you got the last word. Thank you, sir. And hope you come back soon, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: Talk to you soon.

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