West Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Newt Gingrich on Monday criticized the congressional panel that is trying to hammer out a deficit-reduction deal as nonsensical.
"I am watching the 'super committee' in Washington with amazement," Gingrich said. "This is the dumbest idea I've seen in a very long lifetime."
Gingrich spoke to a group of employees at GuideOne Insurance in West Des Moines, Iowa. The company describes itself as a leading insurer of "churches, church-goers and faith-based institutions."
The Republican presidential candidate explained his reasons against the panel.
"One, because of its strategy," Gingrich said. "The other, because of the totally artificial nature of the threat."
The former House Speaker continued: "God didn't come down one morning and say, 'If you don't reach this deadline terrible things will happen.' The politicians in Washington, in both parties, failed to achieve an intelligent solution in the summer, kicked the ball down the road and are now in the process of failing to achieve an intelligent solution in the fall."
"The way I characterize it: it is as though someone walked in and said, 'I am under instructions to shoot you in the head unless you let me cut off your leg.'"
The "super committee" was borne out of the debt ceiling deal reached earlier this year. It has until November 23 to hammer out a deal to cut $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Congress will vote on any agreement by December 23. If none is reached, or if Congress and President Barack Obama do not approve one, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts - primarily in defense and non-defense discretionary spending - are triggered. Those cuts are scheduled to take effect starting in 2013.
Members of the panel have said there is not yet agreement between Democrats and Republicans Democrats want a deal that includes spending cuts, entitlement reforms and new revenues through increased taxes. Republicans oppose any tax increases, instead advocating major reforms to entitlement programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
At the Monday gathering, Gingrich said Congress should drop the automatic trigger of deep spending cuts.
– CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.