Stephen Slivinski is senior economist at the Goldwater Institute. Previously he was director of budget studies at the Cato Institute, senior economist at the Tax Foundation, and a senior editor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Mr. Slivinski is the author of the book, Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government, published in 2006.
One thing that makes Newt Gingrich an attractive presidential candidate to many conservatives is his term as Speaker of the House and his role as the captain of the Republican Revolution of 1994. But a closer look at the history of the years between 1995 and when he stepped down as speaker in 1998 show that Gingrich was usually at odds with those pushing the Reaganite vision of a truly limited federal government. In fact, when the Republican Revolution succeeded at all it was often in spite of Newt Gingrich, not because of him. Unfortunately, too many conservatives have forgotten this or perhaps may not have known it at all.
Gingrich does indeed come across as an eloquent defender of limited government principles. In 1995, he envisioned the new GOP congressional majority presaging a cultural revolution in Washington, D.C. “The real breaking point is when you find yourself having a whole new debate, with new terms. That’s more important than legislative achievements,” Gingrich told a reporter on the first day of the 104th Congress. “We’ll know in six months whether we have accomplished that.”
This week, Jason and Brett speak with former Cato’s Former Director of Budget Studies and author of Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government, Stephen Slivinski.
The discussion centers around the Republican Revolution of 1994, how the GOP traded principles for power, the big spending, and how the fever of fiscal conservatism from 1994 compares to the tea party movement today.
Even though President Obama is pushing Congress to take up his gun control policies, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who is up for re-election in 2016, doesn’t want to take the lead on the issue, according to the Washington Post:
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement Wednesday that he hopes to move forward on gun control legislation “early this year” and that “all options should be on the table moving forward.” But Reid sounded more skeptical over the weekend, telling a Nevada television station that Obama’s most ambitious request – a new federal ban on assault weapons – likely couldn’t be passed by the House and Senate in the current political environment.
Senate Democratic aides said that unlike debates in recent years on health-care reform and fiscal policy, Reid is likely to step back on the gun issue, allowing longtime gun control advocates, including Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), to steer legislation to consideration by the full Senate.
The Post notes that Reid benefited from the NRA staying out of this 2010 bid for re-election, though they didn’t endorse him either, and that there is concern that Obama’s push for gun control “could be a significant factor in at least 10 of the 23 Democratic Senate seats up for grabs” in 2014.
Yesterday, Stephen Slivinski wrote a excellent piece on how Newt Gingrich betrayed conservatives in the 90’s on issues ranging to budget battles and intra-caucus politics. The long and the short of it is that the Republican Revolution succeded not because of Gingrich, but in spite of him.
There has been a conservative alternative presented by the current crop of House Republicans. Though it may not be perfect, it represents a clear, distinct alternative to the agenda of President Barack Obama, who is trying to expand entitlements and domestic spending as much as possible.
As you no doubt remember, Gingrich knocked Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan back in May during an appearance on Meet the Press; calling it “right-wing social engineering.” This set off a fire storm against the former Speaker that led many to believe his candidacy was dead in the water.
And during a interview last week with Coffee & Markets, Gingrich may have again stepped in some controversy regarding Ryan and his budget. Here is the relevant part of the interview (emphasis mine):
C&M: You know, in terms of your critique of sort of the dangers of forcing people into this, of making it mandatory, I certainly agree with you. But isn’t the problem with that sort of an approach that you don’t have predictability when it comes to the costs of the program in the future? And if you could explain to us, I’d love to hear it, why you’re confident that a public option versus a private option in Medicare will bring these costs down.
“We went from trying to balance the budget to using the budget as a pork barrel. We went from entrepreneurs to bureaucrats, from the great ideas to the selfish ideas. But I also refine my understanding-there are two kinds of bureaucrats: benign bureaucrats and malevolent ones. The benign bureaucrat was Denny Hastert. He meant no harm to anybody. He just wanted life to be easy.” - Dick Armey, on what went wrong after the 1994 Republican Revolution
With just eight days left to go until election day, it is looking more likely that Republicans will ride into the House of Representatives in a wave. Here is an assessment from Stu Rothenberg, who sees 97 seats in play (emphasis mine):
The number of Democratic incumbents who are sitting in the middle or low 40s in ballot tests is mind-boggling, creating a stunning number of opportunities for the GOP. Democrats dispute that assessment, arguing that their incumbents are much better off. But Republican polling finds eight or nine dozen Democratic seats are at some risk, and national polls suggest that the Republican numbers are on the mark. We now believe that Republicans gains of 45-55 seats are most likely, though GOP gains in excess of 60 seats are quite possible.
In an average simulation, the model projected that the Republicans will control 230 seats when the new Congress convenes in January; that would reflect a 51-seat gain from their current standing and would be close to the 54-seat gain that they achieved in 1994. This is the first time we have published a forecast putting the Republican over-under line at a number higher than 50 seats.