Newt Gingrich: GOP Should Stick To Its Principles

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The man at the helm of the House of Representatives during the last government shutdown says the Republicans should stand on their spending principles as the next shutdown looms.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in an essay scheduled to appear in Sunday's Washington Post, urges Republicans not to compromise in the latest dose of Capitol Hill drama.

"Work to keep the government open, unless it requires breaking your word to the American people and giving up your principles." Gingrich adds, "Becoming one more promise-breaking, Washington-dominated, sellout group is a much worse fate - politically and ethically - than having the government close for a few days."

House Republican leaders have repeatedly said a congressional impasse leading to a government shutdown is unacceptable and urged Senate Democrats Friday to agree to their plans for cutting federal spending.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has rejected previous continuing resolution proposals that cut or freeze spending and adding that a shutdown would be House Republicans' fault. Other Democrats have called some Republican positions on spending cuts "draconian." Each party has offered short-term extensions of the government's spending authority, set to expire March 4th, but without agreement, agencies would close, just as they did in November of 1995.

Gingrich fiercely defends his party's position in that shutdown, despite the wave of criticism that followed.

"Our attempt to balance the budget was distorted in the news media as an effort to ruin family vacations, frustrate visitors to the nation's capital and prevent government employees from going to work," Gingrich, who is a FOX News contributor, writes.

"It was President Bill Clinton's veto of our budget in December 1995 that closed the government. The White House knew it could use the power of the presidency and the support of liberal media to blame us," Gingrich contends.

Although the episode produced what he called "short-term pain," Gingrich maintains that pain can lead to change in Washington.

"The ultimate result was the first four consecutive balanced budgets since the 1920s, paying off more than $450 billion in federal debt," he wrote. "We also overhauled welfare - the most successful and popular entitlement reform of our lifetime - strengthened Medicare and enacted the first tax cut in 16 years."

And Gingrich challenges the widely-held belief that the Clinton administration was solely responsible for balancing the budget in 1997.

"This would have all been impossible had Republicans not stood firm in 1995 and shown the American people (and the White House) that we were serious about reducing spending...this historic success was not an achievement of the Clinton administration."

Gingrich's message for today's House Republicans is simple, another shutdown of the federal government is not an ideal result, but "breaking their word would be far worse."