Links on Newt Gingrich in Iowa

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made three stops in Iowa yesterday. First, he headlined a fundraiser in Cedar Rapids for the Republican House Majority fund, then he was a featured speaker in the American Future Fund's lecture series in Davenport, and finally he gave the keynote at a Polk County GOP dinner in Des Moines. The Republican crowds loved him. covered Gingrich in Davenport and in Cedar Rapids. Lynda Waddington focused on Gingrich's remarks about immigration, which weren't part of his prepared speech. The Des Moines Register has more on what Gingrich told reporters in Des Moines.

I see Gingrich was railing against President Obama's handling of the ongoing disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I'm not happy about Obama's policy on offshore drilling, but Gingrich has zero credibility to be posturing as an environmentalist. What did Gingrich or his fellow House Republicans ever do to limit offshore drilling or its potential consequences for oceanic and coastal ecosystems?

Although Gingrich pleased Republican crowds with harsh criticism of the current administration, he assured journalists yesterday that Republicans are not the "party of no":

Gingrich said his book, "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular Socialist Machine," is two-thirds solutions. "If you look at what Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is doing to design a contract this fall, it's all positive. If you look at Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) work on entitlement reform, it's probably the most comprehensive reform done in modern times."

Republicans should pray that American voters never seriously examine Ryan's work on entitlement reform.

Getting back to Gingrich, I can't take anyone seriously who calls the corporate-friendly Obama a "socialist." As for Gingrich's positive agenda, it's notable that he "declined to specify federal programs he would cut" to pay for the big tax cuts he advocates. And let's take a look at his five major tax cut proposals:

* A one-year, 50 percent reduction in Social Security and Medicare taxes both for employee and employer

* A 100 percent write-off of new equipment

* Abolishing the capital gains tax like China

* Matching the Irish tax rate for corporations at 12.5 percent. He said today U.S. corporations pay the highest taxes in the world with state and federal taxes combained, which he compared to a "backpack with 60 pounds of weight in it."

* Abolishing the death tax permanently

The first point would exacerbate solvency problems facing the Social Security and Medicare funds, which would bolster the case of conservatives who want to dismantle the programs.

Eliminating the capital gains and estate taxes would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest Americans while adding significantly to our long-term deficits.

Gingrich's claims about corporate taxes are misleading. Thanks to several common deductions, extensions and loopholes, the effective corporate tax burden in the U.S. is lower than in most other developed economies. In fact, corporations have been paying a declining share of total state taxes in Iowa and across the country for decades.

Gingrich didn't rule out a 2012 presidential bid yesterday, saying he will announce his intentions in February or March 2011. If he does run for president, he will not bypass Iowa. His wife (a Luther College graduate) enjoys spending time here, Gingrich noted. I don't see Gingrich as a strong potential candidate and will be surprised if he runs. If he has presidential ambitions, though, he must run in 2012. By 2016 he will be 73 years old.

I see Gingrich tried to hint that Governor Chet Culver has ethical problems. Gingrich isn't on high moral ground when his American Solutions organization routinely uses fake polls to raise money from the conservative grassroots. Polling expert Mark Blumenthal called the sales pitch from Gingrich's group "a clear cut example of fundraising under the guise of a survey," also known as FRUGGing. The Marketing Research Association considers FRUGGing unethical.

I will say this for Gingrich: at least the guy on his third marriage didn't try to lecture Iowans about family values.

I noticed that Gingrich didn't endorse anyone in the Republican gubernatorial primary. He was also silent about Bob Vander Plaats' plan for the Iowa governor to halt same-sex marriage by executive order. Last year Vander Plaats claimed Gingrich was among those who backed his plan.

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