Brett Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. The interview was published Tuesday in the Times.
DECKER: Five questions with Newt Gingrich
Gingrich: Encouraging work, economic growth, entrepreneurial innovation and the revitalization of our manufacturing base are the answers to the unemployment and poverty crises confronting America. This is why I have proposed tax reforms that maximize private capital investment to create jobs. It starts with eliminating the capital-gains tax and the death tax, reducing the corporate tax to 12.5 percent, and 100 percent expensing of all new capital-equipment purchases.
On the individual income-tax side, I propose an optional flat tax of 15 percent or less. All tax filers would be given the option to pay their income taxes subject to current income-tax provisions or to pay under a lower single rate of taxation with limited deductions. A flat-tax reform would save hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs each year and would eliminate the need for taxes on savings, dividends and capital gains.
Decker: What would you do in your first 100 days as president to get America back on the right track?
Gingrich: In my campaign’s 21st Century Contract with America, I outline the priorities of my legislative agenda as well as the various executive orders that I will sign on day one, including the elimination of all czar positions, the reinstatement of the Reagan-era Mexico City policy and the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. My hope is that the new Congress can stay in session after the congressional swearing-in on Jan. 3, 2013, and pass legislation to repeal Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley so that I can sign them into law the afternoon of my inauguration.
We will also act immediately to liberate domestic oil and natural-gas production. The first step will be to sign three sets of permits necessary to bring 2.4 million more barrels of oil production online in the United States: reopening deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (400,000); Chukchi Sea in Alaska (1.4 million); and Keystone XL pipeline (700,000). We will take very aggressive action in the first 100 days to ramp up U.S. energy production so that we can fuel a growing economy. We will move aggressively in the first 100 days to pass the pro-jobs and growth tax-reform measures I just mentioned. We will end on day one the Obama administration’s assault on religious liberty by suspending any Obama-era regulation that impedes First Amendment rights to free exercise. Within the first 100 days, I will instruct the military to disregard the Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush as it pertains to alien enemy combatants.
Gingrich: The goal of the Gingrich administration will be to undermine and replace the Iranian dictatorship by every available method short of war. This includes standing by our regional allies, enforcing international sanctions and aggressively responding to Iranian military maneuvers in international waters. I would readily consider covert operations to dismantle Iranian nuclear capacity and strongly support efforts by Iranian citizens who are eager to change their country from within toward a more democratic and peaceful nation. We cannot let Iran continue to push the nuclear envelope.
Any serious preventative measures against Iran must include developing an American energy plan. By increasing oil and energy production domestically, Iran will no longer be able to hold the world hostage by threatening to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. While our current president is discomfited by standing up to the Iranians abroad, he is all too comfortable hobbling oil production here at home. As president, I will stand up to the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons and dramatically expand our domestic energy resources for production.
Decker: There’s some speculation about the Reagan coalition of defense hawks, social conservatives and economic libertarians starting to fray. Is it important to keep this marriage together for Republicans to win national elections? How can the standard-bearer be a source of unity for the party?
Gingrich: Yes, the Reagan coalition of economic conservatives, social conservatives and national security conservatives is vital to building a conservative governing majority led by Republicans that wins elections. I would add to this coalition a fourth group, constitutional conservatives, who are most animated by a correct emphasis of the constitutional limits on governmental power as the key to protecting individual liberties and conservative moral and social values. The standard-bearer is a source of unity when he or she champions the underlying values of public-policy priorities of all four groups within a framework of lower taxes, balanced budgets, less regulation, greater economic freedom and a return of power and responsibility to states and local communities.
Decker: You impressed the GOP faithful with consistently impressive debate performances and strong, thorough criticism of President Obama, but Mitt Romney has a substantial lead in the delegate count. What separates you from your competition, and how can you nail down the nomination at this late stage?
Gingrich: The moral cause of the Republican effort in 2012 is to defeat President Obama and change Washington so we can rebuild the America we love. But a change in party in the White House is not enough. We have to change Washington. Maintaining the status quo is merely managing decay. I am the only candidate in this race who has changed Washington by organizing a winning campaign of ideas and solutions in 1994 that then delivered on the promises. Four balanced budgets in a row while lowering taxes and reforming an entitlement program (welfare) created 11 million jobs and shrank the national debt by 20 percent and the unemployment rate to 4.2 percent. Such an approach to governance in the 1990s was a revolution by Washington standards. We need another revolution today and I have a plan to carry it out.
As for the nomination, this is the reality: The candidate who closes strongest in this race is going to win. Which means this: This race is not going to be won or lost over narrow and mind-numbing discussions of delegate counts or backroom delegate deals. This race is going to be decided by a big debate, a big choice among GOP primary voters about the identity of the Republican Party and which candidate has the most compelling vision and the most credibility to carry forward a conservative agenda of real change to benefit all Americans. And that is the debate I am going to win, and with it, the nomination.