February 24th, 2010
05:01 PM ET
5 years ago

Gingrich: Capitol Hill staffers 'have never had a real job'

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.


Filed under: Health care • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Newt, you are a dead-beat dad who failed to make his support payments, you were going to bring President Clinton down (he held the door for you as you exitted Congress) and you had that "Contract With America that went nowhere.

    So now you feel you're relevant, how?!?!?!

    Really?!?!?!?!?!?!

    February 24, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  2. usualone

    Interesting thing is that Congress has always run this way. Mr. Gingrich most likely had these young and./or inexperienced types working for him when he held political/public office. Potential lawyers love these plumb assignments and are eager to get things done. This is how they tend to start out their careers because Congress gets them on the cheap and they are eager to put in enormous hours and efforts. They are really the runs who keep Congress running, while the Senators and Congressmen spend most of their time campaigning. So who is he kidding.

    February 24, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. Rita Z

    Well, I've worked in the health care field for 40 years and, based on my review of the two bills, I'd say those staffers understand the system perfectly. It is a national disgrace that, in the richest country on earth, 30 million citizens are without health care coverage and 45,000 of them die each year because they don't have it.

    February 24, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    As Fred Sanford use to say to Lamont: “Shut up dummy”

    February 24, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  5. normajean

    With his background, this man would be wise to shut up. He is definately NOT above reproach. I'm surprised he is still in the picture.

    February 24, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  6. TL

    Capitol Hill Staffers are at work before the members of Congress and they are at work after the members of Congress have gone home for the evening. Gingrich can continue his retirement and all will go smoothly.

    February 24, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Gingrich is so full of it, saying that reconciliation would be a "fundamental violation of 200 years of Senate precedent."

    Where was all his bluss and blunder when Bush used reconciliation to pass his irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy during wartime?

    (BTW, thanks, CNN, for the last paragraph that points this out – that's what I call fair and balanced!)

    February 24, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. They call me "tater salad"

    This poster boy of government corruption should know arrogance when he sees it!........He's practically the living definition of arrogance! Him along with ole 5 deferment "Dick" "Chicken-hawk" Cheney!!!.... Hey Newt, 1994 called.........they said they found that eye dropper of relevancy you lost and wan't to know if you'll be coming back to get it?............BOZO!!!

    February 24, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. Linda in Seattle

    What snide, ugly remarks he makes about everyone generally.

    February 24, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    Gingrich is a typical Republican, devoid of ideas so he resorts to name-calling by claiming that staffers aren't smart enough" to write a comprehensive health care bill and that none of them have had "real jobs."

    And talk about hubris! Gingrich, with his over-inflated sense of self, is the perfect example.

    Who can forget how he shut down the Federal government in 1995 because he was miffed he couldn't ride in the front of the plane with President Clinton to Yitzhak Rabin's funeral?

    February 24, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. They call me "tater salad"

    This poster boy of government corruption should know arrogance when he sees it!........He's practically the living definition of arrogance! Him along with ole 5 deferment "Dick" "Chicken-hawk" Cheney!!!.... Hey Newt, 1994 called.........they said they found that eye dropper of relevancy you lost and want to know if you'll be coming back to get it?............BOZO!!!

    February 24, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. Slider

    I would also add to Gingrich's comments about staffers, and young people in general, that they do not understand at all the concept of time value of money (TVM), and how little by little, bill by bill, they are signing on to ideas that will never eradicate the "need" for things because there is simply not enough money in the economy to do it.

    The Europeans right now, with all of their old wealth, vast population, and government dependency schemes as a way of life, are learning that Otto van Bismark's idea of funding social causes with no money is a road to ruin.

    Do you think that strike in Greece is happening because they have learned their lessons about governments providing things?

    I don't think so. But they will learn eventually. They'll be broke for generations, but they will.

    February 24, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  13. Reggie fom LA

    Yes, Mr Gingrich. I am certain that it is complex for us as laymen and would hazard to guess the same for those who are even closer to healthcare intricacies.. However, to be defeated at the outset is "unAmerican" if you will. Healthcare is not a foe (your insurance companies are though). It's a problem, paraphrasing your own words. When we have our children do their homework, we don't discourage them when they can't do it. We tell them to try. Much as with school where we might fall short, we get help. That's what medical, fiscal and political figures are for...or are they? We're Americans darn it! We fix stuff. When was the last time anyone saw pontificating and naysaying get anything done.

    February 24, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  14. R. Williams

    So, he doesn't think much of Capitol Hill staffers, whom he employed, and doesn't think much of the system that he helped craft. It was good enough for him for two decades, however.

    February 24, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  15. Arlene

    I don't think Former Speaker Gingrich didn't have a "Real Job" either until he had to step down as speaker. I've lived in GA for years and I don't remember ever hearing about Newt in a Corp. environment or any other except political. That's like the pot calling the kettle.....

    February 24, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  16. catmomtx

    I love how Republicans/conservatives talk about how bad government is and how they ruin everything they put their hands on and here Gingrich is now putting down Capitol Hill staffers. One has to wonder then why they try so hard to be in power? Do they think we are so stupid to not realize that they are a huge part of the problem? I mean why would you want to be part of the government that you keep trying to make us believe is so bad? OR are you trying to say Republicans running the government is different? That would be a hard thing to sell considering the last eight years of Republican control of government just about ruined our country. But then again Republicans are the ones trying to convince the American people that the government is bad, what a perfect example the Bush administration was to show us that. Hmmm, things that make you go hmmm.....

    February 24, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  17. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Newt was doing a lot more late at night than working so he should know. Scum bucket.

    February 24, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  18. kf

    Gingrich states that the staffers have never had real job, what about the Republican Senator Schrock from Illinois. He went from high school into politics and is now a Senator. He follows the Republicans around like a puppy dog. He tries to get into all the pictures with Republicans he can by stretching his neck and smiling.

    February 24, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  19. PaulC

    Could that be the reason why no Republican ever tried?

    February 24, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. Michael from Ventura

    Newt should know about PR to get bills passed. His Contract ON America is exhibit A. What a hypocritical blowhard.

    February 24, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  21. m smith

    one more big mouth no substance republican. And tell us about your job. Saying No doesn't take much effort

    February 24, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    This "writing their bills in secret" thing is a lie. Versions of the health care bill (and the GOP proposal) have been on line since last August. These GOP talking heads act as if all of congress should be on camera 24/7 like an exhibit at the zoo. Bills and/or proposals are posted on line for the whole world to see within a day or two of their drafting. Enough already with the asinine talking points.

    February 24, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. merryterry

    What did he say??

    "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, "

    Word Processor? What decade is Newt living in, the eighties??? That was 3 wives ago for him.

    February 24, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. James

    I think the solution for health care is this. Cancel effective today, all the health insurance our tax dollars pay for our reprsentatives and senators, Then let them sit down and discuss a health care plan that would be for all of us, no less and no more.

    February 24, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  25. Lewdog3

    Did Newt ever have a real job? What does he do again?

    February 24, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
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