MANCHESTER, N.H. –- Newt Gingrich, known for his fondness for tossing out ideas to overhaul government, on Monday added a few more proposals to his list, including creating personal Social Security savings accounts and offering retraining to lawyers and government bureaucrats in need of finding other jobs.
In a speech at Saint Anselm College’s Institute of Politics, the Republican presidential candidate and former House speaker said the private Social Security program would be modeled on those in Chile and Galveston, Texas. He said the move would be one of several he would champion to allow “unleashing growth and innovation to move beyond the welfare state.”
Gingrich cited President Obama’s recent assertion that he couldn’t guarantee Social Security checks for the next generation as evidence that reform is badly needed. He said he couldn’t understand why young Americans would want to pay into such a model.
Gingrich said the training program for lawyers would follow successful tort reform, which has long been a goal of conservatives. He bristled at reporters who asked him if that idea and the bureaucrat training were serious proposals.
The former history professor said he is equally serious about another new idea: teaching a free class while serving as president. The class, he said, would likely be online and focused on government.
Gingrich's new ideas come on the heels of his unconventional controversial proposal to fire school janitors and make children responsible for upkeep of where they learn. Those ideas follow the wave of negative coverage that has accompanied his ascension in recent GOP polls.
Also on Monday, Gingrich discussed a Wall Street Journal opinion article in which two Democratic pollsters argued that President Obama should step aside in favor of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The pollsters, Doug Schoen and Patrick Caddell, argued that Obama would be ineffective in a second term because of his inevitability of having to run a negative campaign.
“They are right in their analysis that he is going to raise a billion dollars in order to smear the Republicans, that part is obvious,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on his syndicated radio show. “He intends to run one of the most destructive and negative campaigns in American history … I agree with them that Hillary would do a better job and would probably run better in the generally election than Obama, but they’ll never get him to voluntary step down and she’s not going to run against him.”
Following his speech, Gingrich also spoke to the idea of having people serving in government who are not elected officials, such as in Greece and Italy.
“The elites all think, ‘This is terrific because you’ll finally have people who will do the right thing because they don’t have to win an election,’’’ he said. “Well, that’s fine, except you just repudiated the entire concept of self-government. And it strikes me that the whole purpose of elections is to have a whole conversation as to what we’re going to do to pick something people would actually like to do, to then elect someone who’s going to do what they say they’d like to do and then have them actually do it.”