Gingrich Lacks Economic Credibility. That's Why I'm Voting for Him
Blanchflower, David, New Statesman (1996)
In a major victory for President Obama, the economic year ended with Tea Party freshman Republicans in the House of Representatives being outmanoeuvred, forced to reverse their opposition to a much-needed boost for the economy. Senate Republicans and Democrats had approved a two-month renewal of payroll tax cuts for every worker and an extension of unemployment benefits for millions by an 89-10 vote and had returned home for Christmas, which left the House with no alternative but to support the measure. These are the same Tea Party economic Neanderthals who refused to raise the debt ceiling and caused the US to lose its AAA credit rating last August.
That the economy over the past three months has generated nearly half a million jobs - and the unemployment rate has fallen fast from 9.1 per cent to 8.6 per cent - is a problem for the Republicans in an election year. Increasingly, it looks as if the party is doing everything it can to prevent the economy recovering from recession. Republican policymakers are being obstructionist and the public, it would seem, is on to them.
Opposing everything that the administration wants - no matter if you've advocated it in the past, even when it's good for jobs - isn't an obvious vote-winner. Registered voters in a mid-November CNN survey, asked which candidate they were more likely to support, gave Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, a lead of 4 percentage points over Barack Obama: 51 per cent to 47 per cent. The same survey mid-December found an 11-point switch, giving Obama the edge by 52 per cent to 45 per cent.
The Republican presidential primary is heading my way on 10 January, so I have been thinking about which contender I should vote for. New Hampshire is the first primary of the season, following the first, if unrepresentative, caucus in Iowa, with its large evangelical Christian constituency. Romney won Iowa, just, with Newt Gingrich in fourth place. However, the latest national Gallup poll of registered Republicans puts Romney on 24 per cent and Gingrich on 23 per cent. So the national race is far closer than the Iowa result suggests.
I am registered as an independent in New Hampshire, but according to state rules I am able to vote in whichever primary I choose as long as I change my affiliation as I enter the voting booth. So I will vote in the Republican primary and change my affiliation back to independent as I leave. As Obama is running unopposed this year, the same rule applies to registered Democratic supporters, who have the opportunity to influence the outcome of the Republican vote. All this makes the result particularly unpredictable.
I cannot bring myself to vote for Ron Paul, the libertarian crank who wants to abolish income tax and the Federal Reserve, return America to the gold standard and, ludicrously, cut $1trn of spending in a single year. His credibility took a further hit in the run-up to the primaries when words from his past came back to haunt him. It was revealed that, in addition to the now notorious newsletters filled with racial bigotry and support for violent militia groups and published under his name in the 1990s, Paul had criticised Aids patients, minority rights and victims of sexual harassment in a book published in 1987. …