- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2009

Newt Gingrich is a former speaker of the House and congressman from Georgia. His groundbreaking Contract with America enabled Republicans to regain the majority in the House of Representatives in the 1994 elections - ending 40 consecutive years during which Democrats controlled the House. Today, he is chairman of the Gingrich Group, general chairman of American Solutions for Winning the Future and a Fox News Channel political analyst. We recently asked Mr. Gingrich about issues facing President-elect Barack Obama, the legacy of President Bush, and other subjects

TWT: The Obama team and congressional Democrats can’t wait to push through an infrastructure plan, one they say will turn around the economy. Can America afford such a plan? Or would public-private partnerships like the one between Kia Motors and West Point, Ga., where the state government opened a new I-85 access for the company’s auto plant, be preferable?

NG: Of course we should look for public-private partnerships where we can. However, I am comfortable with direct federal spending on infrastructure - so long as it is on projects that will set the stage for long-term economic growth, not pet projects like the list that mayors have asked be included in the Obama stimulus package.

TWT: What should be foremost on Mr. Obama’s domestic agenda?

NG: It has to be fixing the economy. Obama should focus on four questions when designing his stimulus package:

1. How does it affect small businesses and the self-employed? Small businesses are the job-creation engines of our economy. Any stimulus package should focus first and foremost on them.

2. How are entrepreneurial start-ups supported and encouraged? We should have our economic eye on the General Motors of the next 30 years, not the last 30 years.

3. Does the plan maximize the rate of investment in U.S. companies? By making the United States the best place to invest, we will make it the best place to create new jobs.

4. Does the package encourage growth in productivity? Making American workers more productive not only increases our ability to compete with foreign competitors, but it also increases incomes.

TWT: What do you think Mr. Obama’s biggest domestic-affairs challenge will be?

NG: Considering that 40 percent of his proposed stimulus package is in the form of tax cuts, it appears Mr. Obama is truly trying to govern from the center and start his term with a series of bipartisan achievements. His greatest challenge may be from his left as the Democratic Party’s base tries to pull him to sign into law changes that most Americans do not support. Two examples would be stripping workers of the right to a secret-ballot election when deciding whether to unionize and re-imposing the Fairness Doctrine on talk radio.

TWT: Mr. Obama has chosen people for his energy staff who are focused on global-warming issues andalternative energy forms like solar and wind rather than oil and natural gas. What do you think of his approach to energy independence and sources?

NG: I don’t want to prejudge. However, I believe that only an “all of the above” approach - to steal House Republican leader John Boehner’s phrase - has any real chance of succeeding. This is essentially the strategy I laid out in my book “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” and the documentary hosted by my wife, Callista, and me, “We Have the Power.”

TWT:How do you feel about him picking Sen. Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State?

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