Thursday, February 23, 2012

Newt's plan: "Fire everyone, even me!"

As Newt Gingrich would be the first to tell you, Newt Gingrich is a smart guy, an imaginative, forward thinking kind of guy who is willing to look at unconventional solutions to difficult problems. This kind of bold and daring thinking was on display at last night's debate. In answer to a question from the audience, "what are you going to do to bring down the debt?" he said:
I agree generally with the need to reform government. I think that, if we were prepared to repeal the 130-year-old civil service laws, go to a modern management system, we could save a minimum of $500 billion a year with a better system.

Gingrich--like Plutarch, Gibbon, and Churchill--was an historian, so he doesn't throw dates around willy-nilly. When he says "130-year-old civil service laws" he has something very specific and historical in mind. That specific and historical thing can only be the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883. This act was a bipartisan reform, written by a Democrat, Sen. George H. Pendleton, and championed by a Republican president, Chester Alan Arthur, both of whom, like Gingrich, were historical personages willing to take on unconventional and smart positions. The purpose of the law that Gingrich wants to repeal was to eliminate corruption and increase the professional quality of the civil service by reducing the number of patronage positions. This the genius of Gingrich's forward thinkingness; who needs professionalism and laws against corruption when one has modern management system? Only unimaginative, small thinkers who aren't Newt Gingrich, that's who.

Newt Gingrich's brilliance is not limited to history and modern management systems. He's also a master of mathematics far beyond the ability of lesser minds to comprehend. Take that number of "minimum of $500 billion a year." As we know, Gingrich is very specific in his brilliance; he must have something concrete in mind when gives a number like that. But what could it be. According to the latest analyses by the OMB (p. 122), the entire Federal payroll for 2011 was $ 432.6 billion. That number includes not just the civil service, but also all four branches of the military, active reserves, the judicial branch, the legislative branch, and the president himself. At this point, mundane minds are probably thinking, "gee, that doesn't add up. After firing the entire government, how does he expect to eliminate another $67.4 billion, at a minimum?" This is here Gingrich's sublime mind comes into play. He knows there are plenty of ways to squeeze more blood from the federal turnip. For example, he could stop paying their pensions, cancel veterans benefits, refuse to allow any of the 4.6 million new unemployed he just created to collect the unemployment insurance they've been paying for, and make them pay back some of their salaries from previous years. Lesser minds would never suggest such daring solutions.

Or he might be talking out of his ass.

Note: I'm not saying anything that wasn't already said here. I'm just more sarcastic than they are.

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