Caucus 2012 voter's guide: Newt Gingrich


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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's ideas for fixing the nation's problems this caucus season are as numerous as the problems that need fixing.

"The biggest issue is the economy," Gingrich told The Daily Iowan last week. "If you look at what's happening around the world, we could get in real trouble, because the world depends on us. We need more jobs in America, and we need to get the economy growing."

The best way to solve this problem, he said, is to look at the solutions used by past presidents.

"Ronald Reagan proved that it's a four-part plan," Gingrich said. "Lower taxes, regulations, energy, and encouraging people who create jobs."

Gingrich would extend and make permanent tax cuts which are set to expire in 2013, repeal legislation such as the Dodd-Frank law, which regulates the financial industry, and the Community Reinvestment Act, which offers support to some low-income home owners.

But one expert said following Reagan's plan may sound more promising than it will actually prove to be.

"Reagan initially produced the worst recession since the Great Depression … and suffered greatly in the midterm elections of 1982," said Professor David Rohde, a political-science expert at Duke University. "Does one appropriately infer that he adopted good policies that pulled us out of the recession?"

When considering the effect Reagan's policies actually had, he believes it is difficult to predict how any proposal may actually affect the economy.

"Most of what goes on in the economy is not caused by what the government does," Rohde said. "That makes it even more difficult to evaluate the new policies that Mr. Gingrich proposes and to assess what they are likely to accomplish."

In addition to his criticisms, he said this plan might be a voter attraction rather than a substantial solution.

"[Presidential candidates] are not economists," he said. "Therefore, a large part of what candidates propose is shaped not by what they think is going to work but by what will work politically."

But Katie Koberg, Gingrich's deputy Iowa caucus director, said this is merely one person's opinion.

"Newt Gingrich has been focusing on solutions for years," she said. "He is a solution-oriented candidate."

One recent poll, released by the Des Moines Register earlier this month, has Gingrich listed as the current front-runner with 25 percent support from likely caucus-goers, a significant increase from his 8 percent in the October poll.

In response to the candidate's jump in the polls, Koberg said plans have been made to maintain Gingrich's position.

"[We] wouldn't want to turn over the playbook, but the other team should know we are ready to play," she said. "We are ready to go."

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