Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is downgrading his forecast for a Republican House takeover.
the special-election victory by Democrats in Pennsylvania this week,
Gingrich said, his party has a 50-50 chance of winning back the House
House Republicans need to pick up 39 seats to win a majority.
Mark Critz (D) defeated Republican Tim Burns by a larger-than-expected
margin of eight percentage points on Tuesday to win the seat left
vacant by Rep. John Murtha’s (D) death. Critz was sworn in to office on
Gingrich, the GOP whip when Republicans won the House in 1994, said Republicans must win close elections to take over the House.
your way over the top in tough races matters,” Gingrich said. “I’m a
little concerned we didn’t force our way over the top.”
said Critz won voters by running to the right of most Democrats. He
also benefited from Democratic turnout due to the hotly contested
Senate Democratic primary between incumbent Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe
Sestak, which Sestak won.
Republicans had believed they had a
strong shot at winning the seat. Though registered Democrats outnumber
Republicans in the district, its voters tend to be socially
conservative and had backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008
Incumbents from both parties face a
“very tough” environment, Gingrich said. He noted the victory of Rand
Paul in a Kentucky GOP Senate primary over a candidate backed by Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and the loss by Sen. Bob Bennett
(R-Utah) to two candidates who criticized him for being insufficiently
Gingrich said the themes of this year’s election will be to “replace the establishment” and “change Washington’s tone.”
Bennett’s a good man, a very conservative, solid guy, [but] people
wanted an aggressive tone of change,” Gingrich said. “Rand Paul
defeated the entire establishment on an aggressive tone of change. The
Democrat in Western Pennsylvania won by saying he was pro-gun,
pro-life, against ObamaCare.”
Voters want a major change in
how Washington spends money, with the federal debt at a record $13
trillion and expected to grow by nearly $1 trillion annually for the
next 10 years under President Barack Obama’s policies, Gingrich said.
was in the Capitol on Thursday to lend support to the Balanced Budget
Amendment Caucus, a group of mostly Republican House members pushing
for a constitutional amendment prohibiting deficit spending. The caucus
was created this year by its co-chairmen, Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.)
and Jim Marshall (D-Ga.).
Gingrich, who has left the door
open to a 2012 presidential bid, helped craft balanced budgets with
President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s and oversaw House passage of a
balanced budget amendment when he was Speaker. The amendment stalled in
Gingrich said Thursday that government must make
“very significant changes” to its fiscal policy to avoid the kinds of
budget crises now seen in Greece, California and New York.
is the fourth bubble, after information technology in 1999, housing in
2007, Wall Street in 2008,” he said. “And government is the biggest of
the four bubbles.”
To eliminate deficits now exceeding $1
trillion, Gingrich said, lawmakers could follow the principles used by
Republicans in the 1990s: tax cuts to grow the economy, limited
spending and the replacement — not reform — of costly government
programs such as welfare.
He also called on Republicans to
block any tax increase proposed by the bipartisan deficit-reduction
commission created by Obama.
“On behalf of conservatism: If they come up with a tax increase, the deficit commission is dead,” Gingrich said.