Newt Gingrich is actually a pretty smart guy. He has a little bit of Reagan in him. He likes to entrance you with a story. But then you find out the story was just that…a story…fiction…unreality. His moderate intelligence is wistfully scattered like dandelion spores in the Autumn breeze among his confused and competing thoughts. His image is disfigured by the personal motives he makes such effort to conceal.
The problem is that the moral of the story is always the same: It is how someone is an ignoramus. President Clinton was an ignoramus…22 million jobs, a balanced budget and a war won in 30 days with no casualties to the contrary. This time President Obama has become Newt’s object of scorn. He is variously the traitor or the warmonger, depending on the day of the week, or the superficial Liberal, the callous elitist or the inexperienced buffoon who ruined the economy. While we understand that Newt is trying to get a nomination to run a Presidential campaign, his taking one small sliver of truth and turning into a monumental lie is not the way a man who wants to be President should try to get there.
So we will point out his outright lies and obfuscations. When we are through, no one should believe him.
Here’s a good example. Newt wants to do away with Social Security. He wants to do away with it because…to keep it will cost the government money. So Newt will discuss the Chilean retirement program. He will say that Chile has a good voucher program that enables people to retire with a substantial amount of their income.
The fact is that it was established to be a good, private retirement program by American consultants in Chile. The idea was that it would pay something like a third of the average income of a person on retirement, which would be at 60. So if you made the average income in Chile, about $6,000, you’d get about $2,000. The problem is that it did not work.
The program offered five different mutual funds and they have different fees. Many Chileans opt for an annuity, which means that they pass up their retirement funds and have a monthly income, like…Social Security. It is a little more expensive, about 10% versus our 7%. But the Conservative U.S. consultants working with Dictator Pinochet, decided that, no, companies (all owned by the rich in Chile) should pay nothing. The workers get less in net proceeds from the system. It is like our health system in that the overhead eats up a lot of the proceeds to the workers. That is why the workers are leaving the system and going back to the government system that has always run in tandem.
So Newt’s solution is to give everyone a personal retirement account. There would be mutual funds that would be handled by people like Charlie Schwab or Lloyd Blankfein…who tried to get your money under Bush, and would have, except that the Democrats tossed the scheme out the window. The problem with the system in Chile is that it is a private system. Not everyone has it. And many of those who have it are leaving it, opting for a government system because the 15% in fees they are paying annually is often wiping out any gains they may have.
We need to overhaul our Social Security system. It is not a retirement system…the money pays creates only a poverty level income. With Medicare costs to seniors increasing it barely sustains life. But Newt has no plans to take Social Security in hand and perhaps pay back all the money that he and his Republican congressional colleagues stole to pay for wars and tax cuts for the rich. Let’s just say that Newt is less than credible on his comments having to do with retirement and programs for the elderly. He is far, far from a social progressive.
Well then, what about energy policy? Newt loves the Bakken Shale deposits. The Bakken oil shale contains about 20 billion barrels of oil that can be extracted. It was thought that there were only about 3 or 4 billion but modern methods have changed those estimates. The extraction is not a tidy process but it provides a good income and some strong economic activity in areas of North Dakota and Montana.
So 20 billion barrels of oil would handle our national needs for about 3 years, if it were to fulfill our needs, which are slightly less than 7 billion barrels a year. So, all this wonderful Bakken shale oil that Newt is predicting is similar to his 1994 predictions on the costs of health care. Working unbeknownst to us for the health insurance industry, he said that we did not need Clinton’s universal health care program because of the advent of HMOs would automatically begin to reduce prices. He lied then. He lies now about the Bakken oil shale deposits.
His current story is that if we use the Bakken and if we open up federal lands to drilling and off shore we can be independent of oil from the Middle East. He’s wrong. The Bakken Shale oil field dwarfs any other potential resources and as you can see it has a limited ability to solve our problems…3 years…and then only if we do not sell any of it to China…which is the existing plan.
Newt is really appealing to the fears of the American people in a subtle way. He’s saying…falsely…that we can have an impact on oil prices and by implication can bring gas prices down to $2.00, as he and other Republicans casually suggest. That can no longer happen or if it should, it would be a very temporary price war for some unknowable reason.
So it is all about politics. We’d all like $2.00 gasoline but it won’t happen again because we can’t come close to controlling the price of gas. Oil is priced on the world market and we simply do not and can not have the production to make a difference. Newt does not suggest, because he is not paid to, that we develop renewable energy, but we must. Fast.
Newt likes use the image of President Obama bowing to the Saudi ruler (the same one that George W. Bush held hands with.) Of course all heads of state bow to the Saudi ruler, out of respect for the Saudi customs…just as we do with the Japanese officials and their customs and many other rulers, including Queen Elizabeth. Newt’s political secret is that he can say truly stupid things like this and yet he knows how to do it without being called a moron. Newt says we will save this “embarrassment” because we will be energy independent.
Of course we will be…in his mind…because that is the only place that it could possibly happen. We use 22% of the world’s oil supply, and even with the Bakken, we only have about 5% of the world’s oil reserves. The Bakken is a big increase for us…but we are a small part of the world’s supply…not, as Newt mistakenly says…outrageously says…that we may be the world’s largest producer. We’re nowhere close.
Here are the facts about U.S. oil production. We produce a net 9 million barrels of oil a day. We’re not small potatoes. We’re the world’s third largest producer of oil. The problem is that we use about 19 billion barrels of oil a day, which means that we must import about 11 million barrels.
So is New right? Not really. We import most of our oil from the Western Hemisphere…Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil. We only get about 18 percent from all the countries of the Persian gulf combined. So, if we stepped up our production, as Newt suggests, or put into place a conservation program, plus alternative fuels, plus a very environmentally friendly natural gas plan, we could cut the usage from the Persian gulf down to a trickle.
In fact, what Newt isn’t talking about is the fact that our consumption is way down and has been dropping because of deliberate efforts since the mid-2000’s. Under President Obama our domestic oil production, even with the necessary restrictions on deep water drilling after the BP disaster, is at an all time high.
Another thing that Newt doesn’t mention is that oil companies get a huge tax deduction, about 40% because of the fact that their natural resources are reduced every time they take a barrel from under the ground. But that has long ago been paid for. Additionally, many American energy corporations owe the government billions in unpaid royalties for drilling on leases from public lands. So there are many things to be done before we start drilling in everyone’s back yard.
Newt does bring up one very important point. He says that if we drill in Bakken, full tilt, drill in the national parks, drill in every piece of the Gulf where fish aren’t taking up space, we can create a million jobs. We need a million jobs, especially in the oil and gas business because those are the kinds of jobs that can create another million jobs. So that would put us about half way to where we need to be to start attacking the huge unemployment problem. If we could get one million energy jobs in place, every new job would start to put someone back to work who lost a job in the 2008-2009 crash.
And Newt points out something else we should consider. According to his “experts” the royalties from developing all of our oil resources could be as high as $18 trillion. Well, good. Then let’s develop our oil and natural gas resources with public companies or joint public-private companies. Let’s not pay royalties but keep the money for the government and for the workers and the taxpayers. We could then pay off the national debt that the oil companies helped to create. If the royalties are potentially $18 trillion, then the revenues to the Treasury, after cost of production, would have to be, at a minimum, in the range of $35 trillion!
The oil companies can hardly scream when they don’t use the leases we gave them. They can’t complain because we are doing something that their pal, Newt Gingrich recommended we do. Only Newt didn’t think that we would do it to make the country rich…only his super-rich, billionaire pals in the oil patch.
Newt doesn’t like taxes. Why should we “punish” the rich by taxing them, Newt wants to know. He doesn’t like our current top rate of 35%. He wants to bring taxes down to 15% top rate, flat tax. He literally says that he wants to make the goal for everyone to pay 15% and bring the size of the government down to balance at those revenues. That’s about five or six percent decrease from the present situation, in which we are spending one trillion more than we have.
Does anyone see a problem? Here’s what it would mean. No Social Security. None. No Medicare or Medicaid. None. They’d have to be abandoned. And Newt apparently hadn’t thought this through, like most of his proposals, because it would also mean a huge cut…huge…in our military spending. Remember…we already take in one trillion less than we spend and that is at a 35% top rate and a net of about 23% actually paid by the top earners. Even if we could eke out a real 15%, it would add 500 billion dollars to the deficit.
We have 312 million people, the third largest population of any country in the world after China and India. While the population grew, we cut government many times since 1988, making it more efficient, streamlining it and consolidating it. That is, we did until George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the so-called “Neo-conservatives” came along and, with their cohorts in Congress went on $7 trillion spending spree with money we didn’t have.
Now the so-called “Tea Party” unskilled, inexperienced, pseudo-religious political hacks, put into office by Right Wing billionaire money, want to cut services for the average citizens (and the poor…no coincidence that a huge percentage are black) to cut taxes for the rich. And Newt wants to cut more taxes for the rich.
Newt wants to do away with the, as he puts it, “Death Tax.” Of course others of us call it the “Paris Hilton Retirement Plan.” The fact is that the Inheritance Tax is a substantial amount of money that would be lost to the government. Even with the deductions for the first $5 million inherited and then only about an average of about 15% actually paid on on the rest, the revenue to the treasury is about $32 billion annually. Now Newt would say that this is only about 4 days of running the government.
But others say that it could be the annual hospital costs for current veterans or school lunch programs for indigent kids. If the wealthy taxpayer keeps $5 million up front, then 85% of the rest, it should be enough to get by on. Even if you pay some tax, and keep, say, $5,850,000 out of $6 million…that doesn’t sound exorbitant. But how much does that $32 billion really mean to the government? Well, look at it this way. It is more than the annual gross national product of Bolivia and Iceland added together.
Let’s be rational for one single minute. If anyone should be taxed, it should be those who suddenly had more than $5 million that they didn’t earn dropped into their laps. It is the same as winning the lottery only you didn’t even buy a ticket. While you were waiting it is also more than likely that you were living in the lap of luxury. Then you got a much better tax rate than the lottery winners, who do not get the first $5 million tax-free. (Or $10 million if married! )
We are all taxed one way or another….and most of the taxes are NOT paid by the top one percent…that’s a manipulation of the facts…those people paying 15-25%, the ones above the poverty level up to the lower end of the top 5% pay the largest share of the tax burden. More than the rich. So, Newt is a failed thinker. Or a liar.
Newt hates Obamacare. He hated the Clinton proposals. He hates anything that the health insurers and the hospital lobby and the AMA groups that are still greedy…some have remembered who really pays their bills…not the insurance companies but the customers of the insurance companies who pay the premiums. For the privilege of staying alive.
Newt wants to prevent you from staying on your parents’ insurance up to age 26, as the new bill allows you to do. Here’s what he says: I want to get you a job instead. Is he kidding? Does he think anyone but the audiences at Bob Jones and Regency University and Hillsdale College who are paraded into the auditorium to applaud…actually believe this crap? What do you do if, as the Republicans have seen to it today, you don’t have a job? Something like an actual 20 million people or perhaps even more cannot find a good, full-time job.
Newt Gingrich has never once voted for a true jobs bill. He voted to cut government. He voted to put women on welfare to work in order to get their money. That’s what he calls a jobs bill. That wasn’t a totally bad idea. But it was actually President Clinton who did it and he did it the right way. It actually took women off welfare and eventually led them into meaningful jobs. Newt doesn’t want to help people up…he’s a latent, quiet, hypocritical racist. He liked the law when he thought it would punish lower class women.
We should turn the inner cities into laboratories of how we can train and employ people. We should invest as much money and effort and research and development into curing poverty as we do killing people. Then maybe we could go around the world helping people instead of shooting them and blowing them up.
Isn’t it ironic that the people we enslaved, who should now be helped and raised up, as Newt lies that he wants to do, should subsequently be humiliated and oppressed for simply being the result of their former enslavement, a great part of which was being deliberately kept in total ignorance. We now punish them for what we did to them.
Newt the “educator” taught political science classes that turned out to be merely Right Wing recruiting programs. Where was he in developing training programs for minorities or the superannuated worker, laid off with an industry that had been moved to China? Where was he when neighborhoods sent a tiny fraction to play sports, instead of sending the brightest academic stars in the ghetto to public colleges? he was nowhere.
The fact is that Newt Gingrich, while he pretends to be an activist and an intellectual, is neither. He was a bad legislator. He was fined and asked to resign. President? Newt Gingrich should not be considered for the presidency of so much as a junior college or a local PTA.