Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is reportedly planning to run for president in 2008, hoping to ride a wave of nostalgia for the Republican revolution of 1994 to the nomination. Admittedly, the current Republican Congress is so bad on so many issues, that Gingrich’s tenure looks like the good old days. But anyone who seriously believes that Gingrich is a small-government conservative in the mold of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, should look at the new Contract with America-style manifesto that Newt has proposed as the basis for Republicans to campaign on this fall.
Much of the proposal is simple pandering to various base groups. Confronted with the many serious problems facing this country, Newt proposes that Republicans base their campaign on such crucial issues as declaring English to be the national language, forbidding the courts from considering cases involving the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance, and creating a national voter ID card. Many other proposals would explicitly increase the size of government. For example, Gingrich would expand No Child Left Behind to create national teacher competency standards.
Gingrich does call for Congress to cut spending. Well, not exactly. He does not actually call for any specific spending cuts. What he proposes is budget legislation that would lead to a balanced budget in seven years. Perhaps balancing the budget takes so long because he wants to spend so much more on a national energy policy. Gingrich proposes an array of subsidies to every conceivable energy interest group and project from ethanol to hydrogen-powered cars. Of course, there’s nothing in Gingrich’s manifesto about reforming entitlement programs. That’s hardly surprising—Gingrich supported the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
Gingrich does embrace a couple of good ideas, such as making permanent the repeal of the death tax and overturning the Kelo Supreme Court decision. But, in general, Gingrich seems to be calling for the Republican Party to continue its march toward big government conservatism. Goldwater and Reagan must be spinning in their graves.