You Should Know: Five Facts About Newt Gingrich

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Welcome to Day Three of our series on the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls. Today we’re talking about a GOP party elder, whose years in politics are rivaled only by the number of times he's reversed his position on the issues. Day Three belongs to Newt Gingrich.

A former Georgia congressman and Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich has developed a reputation for opportunism, blind partisanship, and political expediency—especially when he's trying to sell a new book. Now, in a quest to reinvent himself as a Republican primary contender, Gingrich is flip-flopping on Medicare, opposing help for those looking for work, belittling the science of climate change, and misrepresenting his own experience in business.

His record makes it clear that Newt Gingrich is laser focused on one thing only: what's good for Newt Gingrich.

Here are five things you should know:

1) Newt Gingrich admitted that Republicans wanted to get rid of Medicare but because of political concerns, it would be better to let it “wither on the vine.” At a 1995 Blue Cross/Blue Shield conference, Gingrich (confusingly) compared Medicare to Russian bureaucracy, and then went on to say, We don’t get rid of it in round one because we don’t think that that’s politically smart, and we don’t think that’s the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it –voluntarily.”(New York Times, 7/20/96) 

2) Newt Gingrich criticized the Ryan Republican plan that would end Medicare as we know it but then flipped his position after widespread Republican outcry. After claiming that he was against the Republican Medicare plan that would impose “radical change,” Gingrich then reversed himself and said that he “made a mistake.” He said Ryan’s plan is "one I am happy to say I would have voted for. I will defend." (LA Times, 5/18/11) 

3) Newt Gingrich called aid to the automakers “an irresponsible and dangerous use of taxpayer money.” When asked if he thought that American automakers should receive assistance to help them restructure and turn themselves around, Gingrich said, “I don't see how any bailout is going to fix the fundamental problems they have competing today, which means they'll be back in six months for another bailout. This is an irresponsible and dangerous use of taxpayer money.” (Washington Times, 1/19/09) Today, Detroit’s Big Three are all turning a profit.

4) Newt Gingrich has criticized unemployment insurance and said “it is fundamentally wrong. Despite that fact that individuals earn unemployment benefits as part of the workforce – which is why it’s called “insurance” – Newt Gingrich still opposes it: “It's fundamentally wrong to give people money for 99 weeks to do nothing.” (Fosters, 4/21/11)

5) Newt Gingrich said that climate change was the “newest excuse to take control of lives” and he questions efforts to avoid it. A conspiracy theory Glenn Beck would be proud of, Newt Gingrich claimed that the science of climate change is a ploy by left-wing intellectuals to “take control of lives,” and to create a “new bureaucracy to run our lives on behalf of the newest thing.” (US Election News, 6/1/11). However, Newt Gingrich has also questioned if the world is “better off to think through how to cope with [climate change] than we are to think through how to avoid it?” (Politico, 5/27/11)

Although many Americans recognize the name Newt Gingrich, not enough know the truth about his record. The stakes in 2012 are high, and Americans deserve leadership committed to our country’s best interests instead of a candidate’s political ambition — and we need your help to make that clear. 

Spread the word about Newt Gingrich’s record on Twitter, Facebook, email, and through good old word of mouth.