Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at a town hall meeting with employees… (Charlie Neibergall, Associated…)
Reporting from Des Moines — Newt Gingrich unveiled a new "Contract with America" on Thursday, a set of proposals he said would lay the groundwork for righting America's fortunes were he to become president.
Gingrich was a coauthor of the original Contract with America in 1994, which helped Republicans gain a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in decades and ushered Gingrich into the speakership. That document contained specific legislation that Republicans promised to bring to the floor if they took control of the House.
The 23-page document that Gingrich unveiled Thursday was far less specific. Gingrich said the plan was a starting point, and that he would seek input from Americans before revealing more specific proposals in September 2012.
"The scale of change I am suggesting is so enormous, I couldn't possibly as a single leader show you everything I'm going to do, so this is the beginning of the conversation," he said.
Grand descriptions aside, the new contract contains four sections — a set of 10 legislative changes; a pledge to sign as many as 200 executive orders on the first day in office; a training program about limited government for appointees and transition team members; and using social media to involve citizens in pushing the changes. (Some of the proposals had previously been suggested by Gingrich.)
The legislative changes include repealing the federal healthcare law and replacing it with a market-based program that includes tax breaks for those who purchase insurance; reducing the corporate tax rate to 12.5%; eliminating capital gains and estate taxes and allowing residents to file under a simplified flat-tax option. He would also repeal financial regulations, allow the partial privatizing of Social Security and Medicare, and require the jobless to participate in training programs in order to receive unemployment benefits.
To secure the border, Gingrich said he might send half of the 23,000 Washington-based Homeland Security employees there.
Gingrich's campaign floundered over the summer, finding itself with debt and a mass exodus of staff members. He has received strong marks for his performance in recent debates, but he faces a key test in coming weeks over his finances. Friday is the deadline for third-quarter fundraising, and the subsequent reporting will be used to gauge the health of the campaigns.
Gingrich objected Thursday when asked how his fundraising was going.
"See, I knew you couldn't resist. I'm not going to answer you," Gingrich told The Times reporter who posed the question. "You should really go home and think about why you would even ask that today."