I’m so looking forward to this GOP primary with Newt Gingrich as the front runner. He’s been around for so long, has said so many incredibly idiotic things and continues to do so, that for a political blogger it’s the mother lode for material.
Here’s one of my favorites from Mr Family Values back in the 90s:
In 1994, during the early days of the public debate on welfare reform, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich ignited a media firestorm by suggesting that orphanages are better for poor children than life with a mother on Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Responding to blistering criticism, he first defended the proposal by invoking the idyllic orphanage life of the 1938 film “Boys Town,” finally retreating, at least rhetorically, from the entire controversy. Orphanages became just another blip on the nation’s radar screen, or so it seemed.
In fact, the plan to revive orphanages is embedded in the Personal Responsibility Act, the Republican plan for welfare reform, and is a major piece of the Republican Contract With America. The Republicans’ pledge promised to balance the budget, protect defense spending, and cut taxes, targeting programs for the poor–cash assistance, food, housing, medical, and child care–as the big areas for major budget savings.
He explained that what “liberals” really believed was “put your baby in a dumpster, that’s Okay.” He claimed that 800 babies were thrown in dumpsters in Washington DC every year, which was, needless to say, absurd.
The Boys Town thing came in response to Hillary Clinton criticizing GOP calls for removal of poor children from their parents. He tartly responded:
“I’d ask her to go to Blockbuster and rent the Mickey Rooney movie about Boys Town. I don’t understand liberals who live in enclaves of safety who say, ‘Oh, this would be a terrible thing.’”
Apparently Newtie believes everything he sees in the movies. It explains a lot. (I wonder if the revelations about the Irish orphanage abuses have altered his opinion on the wonderful advantages of orphanages? Maybe someone should ask him.)
His comment provoked a firestorm back in 1994 and he slithered back a bit on his stand, as he usually does when he says something outrageous like this. But he never really changes his mind. Look what he said just last week:
“It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid,” said the former House speaker, according to CNN. “Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising.”
“You’re going to see from me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America,” he added.
Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act allows minors over 14 to work in most jobs, with several exceptions for minors under that age. Hours are limited for minors under the age of 16. Some states have higher age standards.
By the way, his “extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty” are the same as they ever were:
The Republicans’ pledge promised to balance the budget, protect defense spending, and cut taxes, targeting programs for the poor–cash assistance, food, housing, medical, and child care–as the big areas for major budget savings.
Add to that orphanages and his bold new proposal to get rid of child labor laws and you have a patented “radical” Gingrich proposal. I’m sure it will be quite popular with the GOP base. This could be his moment.
AFSCME has put together a little video on the subject: