Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's like looking into a weird mirror where you see yourself as Newt Gingrich

A quick profile of Newt Gingrich.

Finances:
Here is his opensecrets page
As you can see from his financial records, 1.2 million dollars has been raised from small individual contributions and 1.6 million dollars have been raised from large individual contributions.

If we break it down by industries, over $300,000 have been raised by something that opensecrets labels as retired. My assumption is that, retired means those are individual contributors who are, in fact, retired. Approximately $250,000 was given by the label of miscellaneous business. His third highest, was finance, insurance, and real estate at approximately $200,000. In fourth place, was health at approximately $90,000. Rounding out the top 5 was lawyers and lobbyists at approximately $80,000.

This report was given in September 2011.

Newt Gingrich and Debates:

I've outlined some of his other talking points earlier and these are some of the ones that come up time and time again.


1. The foodstamp president.
Gingrich has stated that more people have been put on food stamps under Barack Obama than any other president. While the number of people currently on food stamps is at its highest level, the number of new enrollees being added to foodstamps under President Barack Obama is currently at 14.2 million (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service) but during George W. Bush's presidency the number of enrollees rose by 14.7 million. Factcheck investigated this claim and stated that "It’s possible that when the figures for January 2012 are available they will show that the gain under Obama has matched or exceeded the gain under Bush. But not if the short-term trend continues. The number getting food stamps declined by 43,528 in October."
Of those who had income low enough to qualify only 54 percent actually signed up for it in 2002 but that number rose to 72 percent in 2009. USDA has stated that the rise in those signing up for foodstamps has been because of the efforts of state and local governments who streamlined the application process, as well as reduced the amount of information that applicants have to report in order to maintain their eligibility and benefit levels. Others have speculated that since there are no longer actual food stamps but rather EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards that are used similarly to credit cards.

2. Balancing the budget
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich likes to claim that he balanced the budget for four years. This is not true in the first place, as two of the years that the budget had a surplus for were after Gingrich was no longer the Speaker of the House. There are legitimate debates on how much he was responsible for the second year of the balanced budget, as well, since he was done by the end of the fiscal year.
Further, how much responsibility did Gingrich have in balancing the budget?
Per politifact.com, "The budget ended up balancing faster than either party expected simply because economic growth was so strong," said Chris Edwards, an economist at the libertarian Cato Institute. "I don’t think either party had much to do with that."
In his 1996 budget, "Clinton proposed to stabilize the deficit at around $190 billion. He did not propose to balance the budget. The Republicans under Gingrich pushed him into it," Edwards said, and that materialized in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
Steve Ellis, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense stated that the tax increases in 1993, which generated more revenue, was at least somewhat responsible for Congress to be able to balance the budget.

3. Right to work states vs. Union States

This one is a bit of an old claim but Gingrich claimed that the right to work states are creating a lot more jobs than the unionized states. Since April 2001, there was a slight increase in private sector jobs in the 22 right to work states. In the 28 other states, there was a small decrease in private sector jobs.

To read politifact's ruling, click here

4. Gingrich "reminds people who probably didn't know that she was on the ethics committee, that it was a very partisan political committee and that the way I was dealt with related more to the politics of the Democratic Party than to ethics. And I think in that sense, it actually helps me in getting people to understand, this was a Nancy Pelosi-driven effort. They filed 85 charges and 84 were dismissed. The only one was a conflicting lawyer's letter. And then the Democrats just held out for partisan reasons."

Well, no. Politifact rated that as a "pants on fire" claim. The ethics committee is the only committee in the House that has an even number of Democrats and Repubicans. The committee does not move forward with a formal investigation unless the committee has majority support. In case, you are scoring at home, that means that at least one member of each party has to vote to move forward with the full investigation.

Per politifact, "on Jan. 17, 1997, the full committee held nearly six hours of televised hearings before voting 7 to 1 to accept the subcommittee’s recommendation. Voting to accept it were three Republicans -- Chairwoman Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, Steve Schiff of New Mexico and Porter Goss of Florida."

The House voted to pass the ethics report, 395 to 28. 196 Republicans voting for it and 26 Republicans voting against it.

Further, Gingrich accepted what some have called a plea bargain. He agreed to admit one count of wrongdoing and pay $300,000. It seems to us, at The Informed Voter and Politifact, if Gingrich really thought that the process was unfair, he could've taken his case to the House floor where the Republicans held the majority.

To read politifact's statements, click here
5. The war on Christmas.
Gingrich claimed that no federal official at any level can wish anyone a Merry Christmas. Politifact "checked with the American Federation of Government Employees, a labor union for federal workers. A spokeswoman said she checked with the union’s legal staff and they confirmed the view that federal workers are allowed to say 'Merry Christmas.'"

While it is true, that the White House fits the political party for the bill to send out their Christmas cards, this is because of the separation of church and state, as well as the idea that the Christmas cards might be political in nature.

The House and Senate are both restricted with their use of taxpayer funds to send out Christmas cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, condolence cards, etc.

Per politifact, the House regulations are dated back to June 1998 when he was the Speaker of the House and John Boehner was on the committee that wrote the rules.

To read politifact's ruling, click here

6. Gingrich continually claims that Dodd-Frank is destroying community banks.

Thank goodness for politifact, "the first thing to note is that one year after the passage of Dodd-Frank, community banks are healthier. By convention, any bank with assets of less than $1 billion is a community bank. According to the latest report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, for that group of banks, a key measure of profitability, return on assets, has doubled in the past year, growing from 0.26 percent a year ago to 0.57 percent in the second quarter of 2011. Return on assets has been higher this year than in any quarter going back to the start of 2008 before the great meltdown."

Chris Cole, senior vice president of the Independent Community Bankers of America stated that the community banks are actually healthier than they were last year. While Dodd-Frank has done both some good things and bad things to the community banks it has saved community banks about $3.5 billion in fees that they pay to the FDIC.

"'A lot of the stuff in Dodd-Frank is really meant to be targeted at the big guys, not the small ones,' said Arthur Wilmarth, a law professor at George Washington University Law School who testifies regularly on Capitol Hill on banking issues. Wilmarth said many more rules could exempt smaller banks depending on how they are written. The ultimate decision on debit card fees is a good example. Not only did regulators raise the allowable fee, the law exempted all banks with assets under $10 billion from the new rule."


There are other issues that may come up later, but these are the major ones I've been hearing. If there are other issues that you want to see addressed here, put it in the comments.

Arm yourself with knowledge so you're ready when people make ignorant statements. Get yourself ready because ignorant statements will always be around

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