Club for Growth gives mixed grade to Gingrich 

In the wake of  Newt Gingrich's Sunday performance on "Meet the Press" in which he endorsed a form of the individual mandate and described Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal as "radical" and "right-wing social engineering," the Club for Growth is out with a report giving him mixed grades when it comes to his record on limited government issues.

The report, the first in a series of planned white papers on Republican presidential  candidates, concludes that Gingrich has a generally strong record on taxes and spending, but also with a number of glaring problems -- his support for special interest and gimmicky tax breaks, advocacy of the Medicare prescription drug plan, and support for the Wall Street bailout.

Here's the summary:

As a historical figure, it is undeniable that Newt Gingrich has played leading roles in some of the most important battles on behalf of economic growth and limited government in the last quarter century.

His opposition and momentary defeat of the 1990 Bush tax increase, his leadership of the 1994 Republican Revolution, and his spearheading of the provisions of the Contract With America are major league achievements.  His consistent support for pro-growth tax reform, free trade, Social Security reform, tort reform, and political free speech also evidence a clear and impressive understanding of the fundamentals that underlie the free enterprise system that has made America prosperous.

Unfortunately, the problems in Speaker Gingrich’s record are frequent enough and serious enough to give pause.  On two of the most important recent issues that confronted limited government conservatives (creating the new budget busting Medicare drug entitlement, and the Wall Street bailout), Gingrich was on the wrong side.  His advocacy of an individual health care mandate is problematic.  His penchant for tinkering with rewards for favored industries and outcomes shows a troubling willingness to use federal power to coerce taxpayers into his preferred direction.  And his occasional hostility toward conservatives who do not share his desire to support liberal Republicans or to compromise on matters of principle is worrisome.

The totality leads one to be rather unsure what kind of president Newt Gingrich would be.  Past in often prologue, and in Gingrich’s case there is an enormous volume of past on which to base a judgment.  One could reasonably expect a President Gingrich to lead America in a pro-growth and limited government direction generally, possibly with flashes of real brilliance and accomplishment, but also likely with some serious disappointments and unevenness.

Read the full report here.

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Philip Klein

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