Washington (CNN) – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich apparently doesn't hold Capitol Hill staffers in high esteem. Or at least the ones writing health care legislation these days.
Gingrich, discussing the Obama administration's health care plans during remarks to the Atlanta Press Club on Wednesday, said "no one is smart enough" to write a comprehensive health care bill.
"It's not possible to write a comprehensive bill that that makes sense, because nobody understands the system," he said. Gingrich claimed that the White House and congressional Democrats are writing their health care bills in secret, something he called "suicidal hubris."
He went on to ridicule the men and women who work in the halls of Congress, where he served as a congressman from Georgia for two decades.
"Of course it's the nature of the modern Congress, which hires lots of nice young staffers who have never had a real job, who spent their entire life being arrogant to visitors from back home, who end up thinking they know a lot because they stay up until 3 o'clock working on a word processor, and who write legislation as though they have some contact with reality," he said, eliciting laughter.
Looking ahead to Thursday's much-anticipated health care summit in Washington, Gingrich predicted that "very little" will come out of the event, which he described as "a public relations dance for the purpose of setting up a last desperate effort to pass a bill through reconciliation," the budget process by which Democrats could pass a bill without having to break a potential filibuster by Republicans.
But Gingrich, who is mulling a possible bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, also said Republicans should be prepared to demand equal time and "to lay out a whole series of options" so they can find common ground with Democrats on health care.
He said using reconciliation would be "cheating" and "breaking the rules."
"For Harry Reid to try to use reconciliation on 18 percent of the economy, on life and death, would be an act worthy of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and a fundamental violation of 200 years of Senate precedent," he argued.
Reconciliation, of course, has been used in the recent past for major legislation, including the Bush tax cuts and landmark welfare reform during the Clinton administration.