Class was in session today at NewtU.
Former Speaker of the House and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich hosted the first of his “NewtU” panels, which are being held at various locations across Tampa Bay, each one covering a specific theme. The events will feature a variety of speakers, mainly conservative politicians and members of the business world.
Today's “lesson” was primarily focused on Medicare and the budget, under the title “We Can Do Better." In addition to Medicare reform, speakers called for less government intervention in the “free market” and gave their opinions on how to avoid another recession. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Larry Kudlow, host of CNBC’s Kudlow and Company, were on the roster.
Regarding Medicare (a subject of particular interest to the audience, which was made up mostly of senior citizens), guests said that reining in government entitlements was the best way to prevent further economic problems. As expected, there was plenty of Obama-bashing as well as excitement for vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
CNBC host Kudlow frequently said that he wasn’t there to speak about politics, but that didn’t stop him from throwing some digs at the current president.
“The idea is we have inalienable rights to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, those are god-given rights. No occupant of the White House, who is holding that sacred trust for the Republic…no occupant of the White house should dare to change the notion that we have political and economic freedom.”
Kudlow added a hint of bipartisanship to his economic argument, calling for key Democrats and Republicans in Washington to join together to solve the debt crisis. He spoke of the importance of the free market to the United States, and bemoaned the current "Keynesian" policies of the Obama administration.
“The counter-revolution of Big Government, Keynesian taxing and spending, which mysteriously took over again in the past four or five years, I don’t know how this happened. I thought we put a spike into that, but you know, Dracula keeps rising.” He went on to discuss how government influence on the market had failed.
“If it was gonna work, it would have already worked. If it was going to work with over a trillion dollars of government spending to state and local governments, and unions, and work projects that never panned out… if the Federal Reserve’s policy of pumping over 2 trillion dollars of excess money was gonna work, it would have already worked.”
Probably the biggest name at the event was Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a divisive figure beloved by the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Walker emphasized his record of cutting what he feels is government waste, pointing out Wisconsin’s recent transition into a budget surplus.
“We had double-digit tax increases, billion-dollar budget deficits and record job loss in the years before I took office,” Walker said. “On the campaign we talked about the fact people create jobs, not government…..we got government out of the way, we lowered our tax burden.”
He went on to tout the importance of small businesses and their effect on the jobless rate in Wisconsin.
“Knowing that if you give small businesses their hard-earned dollars back to reinvest through lower taxes, and fewer regulations…you’ll ultimately see more people put back to work.”
Throughout the event Gingrich kept the crowd engaged, introducing the speakers while giving his views on the economy, frequently referring to obscure historical facts and taking jabs at the President. Ever the futurist, he touched briefly on advances that could be made, specifically in in energy, if government kept its hands off.
“This is part of the American tradition, this is a scientific breakthrough of new methods and new technologies that allows us to explode into the future with energy and opportunity for every American and once again make us the center of manufacturing,” Gingrich said of new oil deposits found across the United States. He feels the only thing that’s hindering these advances is government intervention. “One of the key impediments is bad regulation. In some ways bad regulation is as bad as bad taxes.”
It’s interesting how much Gingrich encouraged those present to vote for Romney, considering the two candidates' vicious attacks on each other during the primary race. However, as with many of the events, it seemed the base was more excited about a Paul Ryan vice presidency than a Romney presidency.
John Ball is an alternate delegate from Manhattan, Kansas, three hours outside of Kansas City, who came out today to “build his knowledge base." He came out to see “ideas that had been applied and actually have had success” as opposed to simply “theoretical” ones. Out of the speakers, he gained the most from Scott Walker. Ball is a member of his city’s urban planning league and is interested in applying some of what he learned when he returns home.
“In Kansas, in particular Manhattan, we have some challenges with excessive spending. Now those bills have to be paid. [To learn] the principles of how to do that, without doubling the property tax for instance….I’m interested in seeing that.”