Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Tuesday outlined what he believes are the major problems with the congressional “Super Committee” that will devise a deal to cut the federal budget in the coming months.
Gingrich, speaking at the Heritage Foundation, broke the problems down into three categories: constitutional, intellectual, and legislative issues.
The committee, which was created by the debt limit deal struck by congressional leaders early this month, must submit a proposal that cuts at least $1.2 trillion from the budget by November 23.
“Constitutionally,” Gingrich said, “I think this is a truly bad idea.” The legislative power of both the House and Senate will be distilled into a committee of 12, he noted, thereby diminishing the representation of every American who is not a constituent of one of those 12. Journalists and lobbyists will focus on the Super Committee, he noted, while the other 523 Senators and Representatives are either prevented from meaningfully taking part in the process, or given a convenient excuse to do nothing on the debt issue.
The underlying problem in American government, Gingrich continued, is an intellectual one. While the Super Committee is “engaged in an ideological fight – tax increase, or no tax increase,” Gingrich said, the private sector is developing innovative ways to do more with less. He specifically lauded – and repeatedly came back to – a management strategy called Lean Six Sigma, which he insisted could save the federal government $150 billion per year if used as a model.
Gingrich summed up the Super Committee’s approach to the federal budget thusly:
This is a city that says, “well, we’d really like to do better, but we can’t do any better so we’re going to have to do less of what we’re doing or we have to raise taxes. Since you don’t want us to do less of what we’re currently doing, we have to raise taxes, because after all you can’t expect us to change, so we’re going to expect you to change so you can pay the taxes we’re going to demand of you. But you can’t expect your government to change.”
“I think they’ve been going at it exactly backwards,” Gingrich said of the Super Committee’s legislative approach. “When you centralize into grand bargains, you maximize the ideological conflict.” Rather than a “grand bargain,” he suggested, Congress should look to implement numerous “small, smart things.” Doing so would allow partisans on both sides to find common ground on smaller proposals, rather than waging full scale ideological battle on large, overarching pieces of legislation.
One such bill is a Democrat-backed measure in the Senate to allow offshore oil drilling off the coast of Virginia, and use the increased royalty payments to repair infrastructure in the state. Scribe’s Rob Bluey elaborated more on that proposal in a post earlier today.
Check out Gingrich’s full appearance at Heritage below: