By Newt Gingrich
The jobs report from February was, on balance, good news for the American people.
Two hundred and twenty two thousand private sector jobs were created and the unemployment rate dropped below 9% for the first time in 22 months.
While this is not an extraordinary amount of jobs created, it is solid, and is certainly an improvement from the tepid growth that has characterized the Obama administration's stimulus-fueled "recovery."
Naturally, the administration is attempting to take credit for the good news. But in doing so, they are hoping the American people will overlook a few facts and avoid asking some obvious follow-up questions.
It has been 25 months since the Obama stimulus was signed into law.
During this time we have lost a net of 2.1 million jobs.
1.96 million of those jobs were in the private sector.
That's why the uptick in the number of private sector jobs created in February is good news. It shows that businesses are hiring again and willing to invest in their companies.
This begs the question, though, what changed? After so many months of stagnation and job loss, what was it that sparked the private sector job creation?
Liberal Democrats aren't going to like the answer.
The last significant economic policy enacted by President Obama was the extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts through 2013. Finally, businesses and investors were given some tax certainty and knew they would have extra money for the next two years with which to create jobs.
President Obama is certainly entitled to share in the credit for passing this extension. But he should be asked a few follow-up questions.
If he's willing to take credit for the job creation spurred by keeping taxes low, why does he want to raise taxes again in 2013? Why does he want to put small business owners and investors in the same position they were in throughout 2010 -- facing a looming tax increase -- in 2012? How will that help the recovery? And what does the success of keeping taxes low mean for the rest of his agenda?
How fast can we turn things around?
The real issue that President Obama can't avoid is as simple as 2+2=4.
Job killing policies kill jobs.
And the fact is that until signing the tax cut extension, he was pursuing job killing policies like an energy tax, the health care bill, and wasteful stimulus spending.
I remain hopeful that President Obama will recognize the tax cut extension worked and that the rates deserve to be permanent (and that this realization would force the president to reevaluate his entire big government agenda).
However, it is far more likely that he will remain committed to his left-wing, secular-socialist ideology and keep trying to raise taxes.
This leads us to a simple question.
If President Obama is not willing to do what is right, what could the next president do on his first day in office to help reverse the left wing policies of this administration?
What could the next president do on day one to start the turnaround as rapidly as possible?
To be clear, I do not think America's problems can be fixed from the White House. The country is simply too big and too complicated.
As I have written many times in this newsletter, there are 513,000 elected officials in the United States. That's why it will take a genuine grassroots movement at all levels of government to achieve the level of real change this country needs in its policies to remain safe, prosperous and free in the 21st century.
This is not to say, however, that the President of the United States does not have real power to significantly affect people's lives.
Take the power of executive orders.
Executive orders are directives from the president to employees of the Executive Branch. These orders cannot make new laws, but seek to clarify or direct the implementation of laws passed by Congress in executive branch agencies.
George Washington was the first president to issue an executive order, and his successors in the White House have relied on these as a useful tool since then. Many landmark reforms in our history, from Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation to Reagan's ending of price controls on gasoline, have been put into effect by executive orders.
A "Day One" Executive Order Project
If President Obama refuses to reverse course on his radical agenda, we will need a bold plan for the next president to use his executive order power on "day one" to reverse as many of the left-wing policies enacted over the previous four years as possible, as rapidly as possible.
At a speech Monday night to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, I suggested four executive orders that would immediately protect the sanctity of human life and protect religious liberty in America.
1. Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that no federal funds shall be expended for any abortion, except in the case of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.
2. Reauthorize President Ronald Reagan's policy -- also known as the "Mexico City Policy"-- to stop the federal funding of any non-governmental agencies or charities that perform or promote abortions in foreign countries.
3. Respect the beliefs and integrity of healthcare workers by making sure that no American working in a medical environment should be forced to perform any action or procedure that he or she finds morally or ethically objectionable. This protection should include, but not be limited to, abortion and sterilization procedures. Existing conscience clause protections need to be strengthened.
4. Respect each sovereign nation's choice of its capital by instructing the U.S. State Department to respect the choice of capital of each sovereign nation and place the American embassy in that capital. (This would apply specifically to Israel, where the United States refuses to locate our embassy in Jerusalem).
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Share Your Ideas
These are just four examples of executive orders to help reverse the left wing policies of the Obama administration. There are many more.
For instance, there could be an executive order to halt all federal government activities to ration health care services on the grounds that the government has decided the costs are not worth the benefits to the patient.
Another executive order could instruct the EPA that it is not the policy of the United States government to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act unless Congress expressly passes a law amending the act to grant that authority.
Another could repeal President Obama's ban on offshore drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, allowing America's energy companies the freedom to produce more oil to lower prices.
I look forward to hearing your ideas on what should be included in a Day One Executive Order Project.