- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2011

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich rolled out his “21st Century Contract with America” on Thursday that he says would make the United States the world’s biggest oil producer, cut unemployment by more than half and gain control of the southern border — all within a matter of years of him taking office, and without cutting government benefits or raising taxes.

The former House speaker is trying to establish himself in the GOP presidential nomination race through the 10-point plan, laid out in a 26-page document. He promised to repeal President Obama’s health care overhaul, reduce the corporate-tax rate by more than half and offer a flat-tax option for filers, while maintaining the charitable and mortgage-interest tax deductions.

He also promised to pursue an “all of the above” energy and regulatory strategy that he claims could make the nation “the largest oil producer in the world by 2017.”

The plan was designed to capture some of the magic of the 1994 Contract with America that Mr. Gingrich led, and which is credited with helping the GOP capture both chambers of Congress in that year’s elections.

Taken together, Mr. Gingrich said his newly proposed tax cuts and regulatory changes will lead to the kind of robust economic growth that’s needed to reduce the nation’s trillion-dollar deficits, create millions of new jobs and slice the unemployment rate to 4 percent from 9.1 percent “within only a few years.”

“By creating more wealth and more taxpayers, and by developing billions of dollars worth of new American energy resources, we will dramatically increase federal, state and local revenues and decrease budget deficits,” he says in the plan.

As for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the biggest drivers of national spending — he said that upwards of $120 billion can be saved by cutting waste and fraud, and that younger citizens should have the option of putting some of their contributions into a Social Security savings account. On the national security front, he called for new investment in military infrastructure and equipment, and a shifting of resources to “achieve virtually 100 percent [border] control by January 1, 2014.”

He also repeated his belief that English should be deemed the official language of the country.

Mr. Gingrich hopes the plan will revive his flagging presidential campaign, which almost self-destructed this summer after a campaign shakeup. He now trails Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by double-digits in national polls, though he has climbed to fourth place, thanks in part to his debate performance in Florida last week.

Several other candidates also have issued broad economic plans that included similar spending cuts and tweaks to the tax code in an effort to make the nation more competitive in the global market.

The Georgia Republican mapped out his plan at an insurance company in Des Moines, Iowa, saying that it was meant to begin a national conversation about the nation’s most pressing problems.

The revamped plan, though, contrasts with the 1994 contract that became a unifying message for Republicans. It lacks the specific legislative proposals that were attached to the specific goals. This time around, the Gingrich plan offers up some general goals and vague promises, without the specific legislative proposals to back them up.