By Lynda Waddington
If Republicans want to advance an agenda of conservative principles and values, simply retaking the White House from Democratic control won't be enough, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich told a group of political activists gathered at Clear Creek Amana High School.
"This can't be an election just about the presidency," Gingrich said. "We need 12 Senate and 30 to 40 House seats so that when we win with a second contract with America, we spend the first 90 to 120 days really, fundamentally changing Washington in a decisive way. That can't be done just from the Oval Office. That requires a team, and we have to have campaigns unify as a team across the country and be committed to the entire team winning in November of next year."
Gingrich said he wasn't traveling Iowa asking people to be "for him," but instead he needed people who were going to be "with him" on the long journey ahead.
"You know, when you are for somebody, you go and you vote on election day and, if they wain, you go home and say, "Boy, I sure hope they can do it.' I'm here to ask you to be with me because turning this country around will be an eight year job and we will need your help every single day for eight years."
Not only will voters throughout the nation need to help the executive branch reign in and focus Congress, but they will need to take up the slack when GOP hopes are realized and government begins to shrink.
"If you are going to shrink the bureaucracy in Washington, you had better grow the citizenship in Iowa because you are going to have to fill the vacuum created by getting rid of all of these agencies and returning power back home," he said.
"So, we are really talking about an agreement that, in return for shrinking Washington government, you're going to be bigger, more active citizens, helping solve problems in your own communities. If we are able to cut taxes and give you more take-home pay, if we are able to create more jobs, you are going to have to be more active in your charities and in your churches and synagogues and more active in your community. That's the contract. You cannot have a successful America without active citizens, actively doing their job."
But Gingrich also believes with the country sitting at 9 percent unemployment and other economic factors bearing down, that the GOP shouldn't wait only on the 2012 election, but start pushing for changes that can help the country in advance of that time.
"[President] Reagan had four pillars to creating jobs. And, frankly, if we could convince President Obama of this, he ought to call the Congress back in and pass it," Gingrich said. "We need to turn the economy around because it is very, very dangerous to have 9 or 10 percent unemployment in a free society. It is culturally destructive. America only works when America is working, [and] you can only be a free people when you earn your own living. It is very dangerous because if we get a major shock in Europe or in the Middle East, we could actually drop into a deeper depression than we are now."
Reagan's four pillars, according to Gingrich, were to cut taxes, deregulate, focus on American energy and rebuild a belief in job creation, hard work and entrepreneurship.
"Drop the [corporate] tax rate to 12-and-a-half percent and you will get more money out of General Electric than you are getting at 35 percent," he said. "At 35 percent you are getting zero because they hire hundreds of tax lawyers to avoid taxes, but at 12-and-a-half percent, they'll fire half the lawyers and write the check."
Businesses and farms, he added, should be able to write off 100 percent of their expenses in the same year for taxes. Allowing such a tax write-off would place "the most modern equipment in the world" in the hands of workers with "the greatest productivity in the world" so the nation can compete globally with workers better equipped than anyone else.
"Abolish the death tax permanently -- it is an immoral tax and it needs to go," he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency needs to be replaced, he suggested, with an Environmental Solutions Agency that would "be designed to have the economy be as important as the environment." Recently financial regulatory reform, known as Dodd-Frank, needs to be immediately repealed. The National Labor Relations Board needs to be stripped of all power, he said, based on the investigation ongoing against Boeing, which is "a direct threat to every right-to-work state." Under Gingrich, the Food and Drug Administration would also be revamped into a new agency that would be tasked with getting new products and solutions from the laboratory to the market as rapidly as possible.
Gingrich said he had taken hits for his historic support of ethanol, but that he remains in favor of any form of energy that can be created here in the U.S.
"I am for an American energy program that produces American energy," he said, naming off nearly every potential energy-producing industry from wind to oil to nuclear.
"If I've got to choose between money going to Iowa or going to Iraq, I pick Iowa. If I've got to choose between money going to South Dakota or Saudi Arabia, I choose South Dakota. We can produce both food and energy and we ought not to let anybody intimidate us into believing we can't."
The fourth Reagan pillar, and the place where Gingrich appears to find Democratic leadership most lacking, was to make Americans feel good about being Americans, creating jobs, going to work and making their small business's payroll.
"Class warfare kills jobs," he said. "Class warfare kills paychecks. Class warfare puts people on food stamps."
Gingrich also derided President Obama for launching a bus tour of the Midwest focusing on job creation.
"He's not a candidate. Candidates take bus tours; Presidents do their job," Gingrich said.
Finally, Gingrich called on the hearings of the 12-member super committee, or Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, to hold their meetings openly and allow all Americans to hear their positions and negotiations.