At a campaign stop at Memorial Hall in Dayton, Ohio yesterday, presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich sought to inject enthusiasm into his weakening campaign to be the Republican nominee. He spent over twelve minutes of his nearly forty five minute speech telling the story of historic Dayton figures Orville and Wilbur Wright and weaving their inspiring story into a pitch for space exploration. With the Wright Patterson Air Base nearby, his personalized pitch resonated with many in the crowd. Taking courage from the crowd and the adoring gaze of his wife, Callista, he called his chief opponents cheapskates who lacked a clear vision for the future, like his conservative brother in arms, Ronald Reagan.
His segue to his standard stump speech then took an odd turn when he looked to several sign-carrying Fair Tax supporters in the crowd and announced yet another grandiose, over the top proposal like many that the public has come to expect in his campaign. He said he wants to “sponsor and … support creating a commission on the Fair Tax, putting together a computer model so that every American can go on line, take their current budget, compare what it would be like under the Fair Tax versus what it would be like under the current tax code.” Not to be outdone by such a simple proposal he then went on to say that “once that commission has done that, I would then like to have 435 Congressional District Commissions, so that we would be in a position to have hearings in every single congressional district where people could come out and ask questions, offer improvements, figure out how to do it.” (Yes, he said this. I have the audio.)
Gingrich’s proposal to create commissions and committees to study ideas is something we should expect from a former congressman. Before offering to create a Commission, the former Speaker should probably have visited the Fair Tax web site where there is already a calculator to compare the Fair Tax with current tax rates. Perhaps, judging by the crowd’s less enthusiastic response to 435 Congressional District Commissions, the Far Tax supporters saw the possibility that a Fair tax proposal under Gingrich would be mired in an endless stream of perpetual committee meetings resulting only in volumes of committee reports and studies that no one would ever read.
Like so many other of his grandiose ideas, this had the ring of something well thought out and planned, studied and approved before the announcement. In reality Gingrich has the ability to throw these ideas out rather impulsively – using the orator’s gift to stimulate the crowd’s excitement and moving on to the next topic before anyone can ask, “wait – what?” It will be interesting to see whether his Fair Tax Commissions will go anywhere outside the walls of Memorial Hall.