Gingrich: GOP must seize 'breakout' policies

Newt Gingrich urged House Republicans to stop “stumbl[ing] into the next crisis” and instead seize the policy initiative by seeking “breakout” policies in healthcare, education and other major policy areas.

Although the 2014 midterm elections already look to be fought over raising the debt ceiling or defunding ObamaCare, the former Speaker said Republicans must look in a different, more future-oriented direction.

“Instead of sitting around, passively waiting to stumble into the next crisis, we ought to be out there looking at new ideas,” Gingrich told The Hill in an interview. 

These new ideas, said Gingrich, cover everything from promoting regenerative medicine to the potential benefits of online schooling and self-driving cars.

Gingrich’s new book Breakout, published Monday, argues that America is on the cusp of major technology-driven innovations in most major policy areas. But such a “breakout” requires overcoming the political and bureaucratic “prison guards of the past” who benefit from stagnation, Gingrich says. 

Gingrich said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) should tell House Republicans to find potential “pioneers of the future” in their districts, and organize committee hearings over how to remove factors that inhibit innovation.

“If they made that their goal for the next year, they would, by the fall of 2014, have so many new ideas, and have so many new friends, and have so many new interesting solutions, that we would have begun to transform the entire tone of Washington, D.C.”

Gingrich said Republican efforts to find future-oriented policies centered on more than just rejecting or repealing Democratic legislation would also reduce partisan rancor.

“There’s not an automatic fight because it’s not my version of pain versus your version of pain,” he said.

Despite his remarks, Gingrich did not directly condemn the anti-ObamaCare effort that resulted in a government shutdown last month.

“[The shutdown] was unavoidable. That’s what the base of the Republican Party says, and parties do have an obligation to represent their base. But I would emphasize ‘replace’ rather than ‘repeal.’”

Gingrich said a future-oriented GOP did not require a victory of one side in the party’s internal ideological battles. He said “breakout champions” could come from both centrist and Tea Party wings of the party.

He pointed positively toward Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) tenure in the Florida House of Representatives, when he sought out ideas from citizens and condensed them into a book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future. However, Gingrich said New Jersey’s more centrist governor, Chris Christie, could also be a major Republican innovator.

“If Christie runs for president, he’s not going to run in order to keep Washington as it is. He may be as radical a change agent as anyone in politics today. He might cause as much trouble and heartburn for the traditional establishment as anyone on the right.”

Gingrich hearkened back to the Republican Party’s roots to promote his vision for Republicans.

“Abraham Lincoln is the only American president to have a patent,” he said. “Much of the rise of the modern Republican Party was as a pro-science [party] … we want to reestablish the idea that you can be optimistic about the future.”

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