GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich entered the lunch room at GuideOne Insurance in West Des Moines at about 11:30 a.m. and focused his opening commentary to the crowd on the “super committee” wrestling with a deficit reduction plan.
“I am watching the super committee in Washington with amazement, Gingrich said. “This is the dumbest idea I have seen in a very long lifetime.” The crowd applauded. A few hooted.
Gingrich suggested the alternative to a deal — a 25 percent across-the-board cut in the federal budget — is a “totally artificial…threat.”
“God didn’t come down one morning and say, ‘If you don’t reach this deadline, terrible things will happen,” Gingrich said. “The politicians in Washington in both parties failed to achieve an intelligent solution in the summer, kicked the ball down the road, and are now in the process of failing to achieve an intelligent solution in the fall…It’s as though somebody walked in and said, ‘You know, I’m under instructions to shoot you in the head unless you have me cut off your leg.’”
Gingrich characterized the super committee as “automatic stupidity as a replacement for self-government.”
Gingrich called upon congress to “drop the threat” of the across-the-board cut if the super committee fails. “The idea that you’re going to browbeat the American people into supporting something stupid because you already passed something that’s even dumber is really bad government and a real betrayal of the principles of self-government. Just drop it. Come to us with something that’s on its face worth passing.”
Gingrich suggested tax increases were “maniacally stupid” and “an invitation to an economic catastrophe.” Gingrich said “innovation” would spur economic growth that would be able to “mop up the debt by the sheer scale of the economy.”
Gingrich characterized Obama’s economic strategy as “fantasy and collapse.”
In answer to the first question from the audience — about cooperation in the political class — Gingrich said: “I think it’s become much too partisan in both parties.”
“I’m more interested in you,” the last questioner from the audience, 76-year-old Lillie Anderson of Des Moines — a part-time Guide One employee, told Gingrich. She asked him to tell her why she should vote for him.
Gingrich said he would share his “deepest feelings” and he began by talking about his childhood in a military family, then closed with a discussion of the nation’s current dilemma.
“I don’t think there’s anybody else with the range of experience, the range of background, the willingness to take the beating,” Gingrich said to close. “….I find it very formidable to think that I might win.”
Anderson, a supporter of Tim Pawlenty until he dropped out, told reporters afterwards that she is likely to caucus for Gingrich now. “I want somebody who is going to beat Obama,” Anderson said, adding Gingrich’s performance in the televised debates were what swayed her into the Gingrich camp.
AUDIO of the answer Gingrich gave Anderson at the end of his GuideOne appearance.