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Newt Gingrich on Technology

Former Republican Representative (GA-6) and Speaker of the House


Get an American on the moon before the Chinese get there

Q: [to Romney]: Speaker Gingrich said that by the end of his second term, there would be a permanent base on the moon. Good idea?

ROMNEY: That's an enormous expense. And right now I want to be spending money here.

Q: [to Gingrich]: How do you plan to create a base on the moon in eight years while keeping taxes down?

GINGRICH: You start with the question, do you really believe NASA in its current form is the most effective way of leveraging investment in space? My point is, I believe by the use of prizes, by the use of incentives, by opening up the space port so that it's available on a ready basis for commercial fight--there are many things you can do to leverage accelerating the development of space. Lindbergh flew to Paris for a $25,000.00 prize. If we had a handful of serious prizes, you'd see an extraordinary number of people out there trying to get to the moon first. And I'd like to have an American on the moon before the Chinese get there.

Source: CNN 2012 GOP primary debate on the eve of Florida primary , Jan 26, 2012

6 or 7 private launches every day; permanent moon base

Q: You said that you would support a lunar colony, and that if 13,000 Americans were living there, they would be able to apply for US statehood from the moon?

GINGRICH: Look at what John F. Kennedy said in 1961: "We will go to the moon in this decade." No American had orbited the Earth. The technology didn't exist. And a generation of young people went into science and engineering, and they were tremendously excited. And they had a future. The program I envision would probably end up being 90% private sector, but it would be based on a desire to get NASA out of the business of trying to run rockets, and to create a system where it's easy for private sector people to be engaged. I want to see us move from one launch occasionally to 6 or 7 launches a day because so many private enterprises walk up and say, we're prepared to go do it. I do not want to be the country that having gotten to the moon first, turned around and said, it doesn't really matter. I think that is a path of national decline.

Source: CNN 2012 GOP primary debate on the eve of Florida primary , Jan 26, 2012

I favor Internet freedom; SOPA favors Hollywood

Q: SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, would crack down on Internet piracy. But opponents say it's censorship. Our parent company, Time Warner, says we need a law like this because movies are being ripped off online. There's two competing engines of our economy at odds.

GINGRICH: Well, you're asking a conservative about the economic interests of Hollywood. And I'm weighing it... Virtually everybody who's technologically advanced, including Google and YouTube and Facebook, say this is going to totally mess up the Internet, and the bill in its current form is written really badly and leads to a range of censorship that is totally unacceptable. Well, I favor freedom. We have a Patent Office, we have copyright law. If a company finds that it has genuinely been infringed upon, it has the right to sue, but the idea that we're going to preemptively have the government start censoring the Internet on behalf of giant corporations' economic interests strikes me as exactly the wrong thing to do.

Source: South Carolina 2012 GOP debate hosted by CNN's John King , Jan 19, 2012

We can't compete with China with an inferior infrastructure

Q: What about infrastructure & job creation?

GINGRICH: Let's stick with infrastructure, because I think it's a very big, very important topic. You cannot compete with China in the long run if you have an inferior infrastructure. You've got to move to a 21st century model. That means you've got to be technologically smart and you have to make investments. So for example here [in N.H.], the Northern Pass project ought to be buried and should be along the state's right of way. Which means you'd need these modern techniques to bring electricity from Quebec all the way down to Boston in a way that also preserves the beauty of northern New Hampshire. [We need] the ability to have an infrastructure investment program that would actually get us back on track. If you don't have some systematic investment program, then you are not going to be able, I think, to compete with China and India.

Source: WMUR 2012 GOP New Hampshire debate , Jan 7, 2012

America should be in space, aggressively & entrepreneurially

ROMNEY: Speaker Gingrich and I have a lot of places where we disagree.

Q: Why don't you name them?

ROMNEY: We can start with his idea to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the from the moon, I'm not in favor of spending that kind of money to do that.

GINGRICH: I'm proud of trying to find things that give young people a reason to study science and math and technology and telling them that someday in their lifetime, they could dream of going to the moon, they could dream of going t Mars. I grew up in a generation where the space program was real, where it was important, and where frankly it is tragic that NASA has been so bureaucratized. Iowa's doing brilliant things, attracting brilliant students. I want to give them places to go and things to do. And I'm happy to defend the idea that America should be in space and should be there in an aggressive, entrepreneurial way.

Source: Yahoo's "Your Voice Your Vote" debate in Iowa , Dec 10, 2011

Prepare more for electromagnetic pulse attack

Q: What national security issue do you worry about that nobody is asking about?

CAIN: Having been a ballistics analyst and a computer scientist early in my career, cyber-attacks: that's something that we do not talk enough about, and I happen to believe that that is a national security area that we do need to be concerned about.

GINGRICH: I helped create the Hart-Rudman Commission with President Clinton, and they came back after three years and said the greatest threat to the United States was the weapon of mass destruction in an American city, probably from a terrorist. That was before 9/11. That's one of the three great threats. The second is an electromagnetic pulse attack which would literally destroy the country's capacity to function. And the third, as Herman just said, is a cyber attack. All three of those are outside the current capacity of our system to deal with.

Source: 2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate , Nov 22, 2011

FactCheck: 1.3 million Twitter followers is exaggerated

The website Gawker reports that most of Gingrich's 1.3 million Twitter followers are fake, after Politico reported that Gingrich's Twitter following far exceeded his rivals. Gingrich bragged, "It turned out I have 6 times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined."

Gingrich embraced Twitter long before most political figures (he's sent more than 2,700 tweets). But Gawker cited an anonymous former Gingrich staffer who estimated about 80% of the followers were created by agencies wit dummy accounts.

An analysis concluded only 8% of Gingrich's Twitter followers were confirmed as "real human beings." People can pay companies to gather Twitter followers (about $12.99 per 1,000), but the Twitter followers are often fake. The Gingrich campaign strongly denies using such tactics.

There is strong evidence that not all 1.3 million followers are real. There are Twitter followers and there are bona fide Twitter followers. Gingrich has 1.3 million of the former, not so many of the latter.

Source: FactCheck on 2011 Presidential primary by PolitiFact.com , Jul 31, 2011

Replace NASA with incentives to private sector

Q: What role should the government play in future space exploration?

GINGRICH: I'm a big fan of going into space and I worked to get the shuttle program to survive at one point. But NASA has become a case study in why bureaucracy can't innovate. If you take all the money we've spent at NASA since we landed on the moon and you had applied that money for incentives to the private sector, we would today probably have a permanent station on the moon, and a new generation of lift vehicles. And instead, what we've had is bureaucracy after bureaucracy and failure after failure. We're at the beginning of a whole new cycle of extraordinary opportunities. And, unfortunately, NASA is standing in the way of it, when NASA ought to be getting out of the way and encouraging the private sector.

PAWLENTY: I don't think we should eliminate the space program.

GINGRICH: I didn't say end the space program. I said you could get into space faster & more effectively, if you decentralized it & got it out of Washington

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in Manchester NH , Jun 13, 2011

Treat WikiLeaks as enemy combatants engaged in terrorism

Q: If you were in charge, how would you handle Julian Assange and WikiLeaks?

A: Information warfare is warfare, and Julian Assange is engaged in warfare. Information terrorism, which leads to people getting killed is terrorism, and Julian Assange is engaged in terrorism. He should be treated as an enemy combatant. WikiLeaks should be closed down permanently and decisively. But even more, how can these documents have been released?

Q: Via a private in the Army.

A: How do you have a system so stupid [that an Army Private can] download a quarter million documents and the system doesn't say [anything]? I mean this is a system so stupid that it ought to be a scandal of the first order. This administration is so shallow, and so amateurish about national security that it is painful and dangerous.

Source: Fox News interview on Business Insider , Dec 5, 2010

NASA bureaucrats hijacked the great space adventure

One of the great disappointments of my life has been the hijacking of the great space adventure by the NASA bureaucracy. Space should be an area in which American innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship are producing constant breakthroughs that increase our economic capability, improve our quality of life, and raise our prestige around the world. Instead, space has been hijacked by dull, inefficient, and unimaginative bureaucracies and transformed into an expensive, risk-adverse, and sad undertaking.

I propose a dramatically bolder approach. NASA currently has plans to spend twenty years getting to Mars at a cost estimated of up to $450 billion. A very significant amount of that time and money will be spent studying, planning, and thinking. We would get much further much faster if we simply established two prizes: a tax-free $5 billion prize for the first permanent lunar base and a tax-free $20 billion prize for the first team to get to Mars and back.

Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p.187-191 , Dec 18, 2007

Establish three high-speed rail corridors; NY-MA; FL; & CA

The French & Japanese have made substantial investments in creating high-speed rail corridors. The Chinese are now following their lead. The US has 3 corridors that are very conducive to this kind of high-speed train investment. We could build a system between Boston and Washington; from Miami to Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville; and from San Diego to San Francisco.

There are three problems with trying to build high-speed systems in the US and, not surprisingly, all three relate to government.

  1. Union work rules make it impossible, at least if Amtrak has anything to do with it.
  2. Pork barrel politicians waste money subsidizing absurdly uneconomic routes
  3. Regulations and litigation involved in large-scale construction have become time- consuming and expensive.
I support a 21st century rail system that is privately built, run efficiently, and capable of earning its own way. The US should have a railroad system that works for us, and not for the Amtrak bureaucracy and their unions.
Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p.211-212 , Dec 18, 2007

Invest in scientific revolutions: energy, space, environment

[We can meet] the triple economic challenges of an explosion in technological knowledge, an increasingly competitive world market, and the rise of China & India by implementing:
  1. A new system of civil justice to reduce the burden of lawsuits and to incentivize young people to go into professions other than the law.
  2. A dramatically simplified tax code that favors savings, entrepreneurship, investment, & constant modernization of equipment & technology.
  3. Math & science education [that encourages] young Americans to both discover the science of the future and to compete successfully with other well-educated societies.
  4. Investing in the scientific revolutions that are going to transform our world--particularly in energy, space, & environment.
  5. Transforming health care into a 21st Century Intelligent Health System that improves our health while lowering costs dramatically. In the process, American health care will become our highest value export and foreign exchange earning sector.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org, “Issues” , Sep 1, 2007

Focus on investing in science and discovery

To meet the challenge of investing in science & discovery, I believe we should focus on the following areas:
  1. Math & science education: We must fundamentally change the way we educate our children about science & discovery, to produce more math & science students.
  2. Increased funding for the NSF (National Science Foundation): Increase annual funding from $4.7 billion to $15 billion
  3. We must fund large-scale marquee projects like Internet-based astronomical data and collected.
  4. High priority for CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  5. Mobilize a movement in favor of scientific research
  6. Space: space exploration has a proven record of achieving major scientific breakthroughs.
climatology data.
  • Reserve room in science budgets for non-traditional research because peer review is ultimately a culturally conservative and risk-adverse model.
  • Prizes to advance science like the $25,000 prize Charles Lindbergh
    Source: Saving Lives and Saving Money, by Newt Gingrich, p.180-189 , Sep 22, 2003

    Nanotechnology combined with biotech will transform society

    We are living through two patterns of change. The first is the enormous computer and communications revolution. We are at most only 1/5 of the way through it. The second, only now beginning to rise, is the combination of nanotechnology, biology, and information.

    Nanotechnology allows us to “grow” materials by literally adding the right atoms and molecules to one another--a material technology breakthrough that changes the way we build things and how much they weigh. One example is that nanotechnology makes possible molecular “helpers” which could hunt cancer cells or clean clogged arteries.

    The information revolution (computers and communications) impacts this technology in exponential ways, giving us better capabilities to deal with the nanoworld and with biology. It is the synergistic effect of these three systems together--nanotechnology multiplied by biology multiplied by information--that will lead to an explosion of new knowledge and new capabilities.

    Source: Savings Lives and Saving Money, by Newt Gingrich, p.173-177 , Sep 22, 2003

    Supports federal investment in space for science & discovery

    Space exploration has a proven record of achieving major scientific breakthroughs that directly affect our lives both from the research that takes place in space and the process itself. Some of the most important research being done anywhere on nanotechnology is carried out by NASA.

    Space exploration has also been the most successful vehicle for translating the need to invest in science and discovery to the American people. It is a visible, tangible, results-oriented program that instills national pride and helps us quickly understand why research is important. There is something magical about space exploration that microscopes and lab coats cannot convey.

    The NASA community is aware of how incredibly important it is to continue to push the boundaries of our knowledge and its benefits to our society, starting of course with the astronauts themselves.

    Source: Saving Lives and Saving Money, by Newt Gingrich, p.189 , Sep 22, 2003

    Statistical adjustment of census begets political adjustment

    The Constitution requires the census for apportioning House seats and other offices. And population patterns figure in the formulas for distributing federal money. The Founding Fathers intended that the census should be an actual count of people. The expression in the Constitution is “actual enumeration.”

    It is almost certainly those in poor neighborhoods who get undercounted. The liberal Democrats have been proposing that we eliminate the present system altogether and substitute for it something they call “statistical adjustment.” Under this system, the census would count only 90% of the people. Then a statistical adjustment would be made to get to 100%. Republicans are committed to what the Constitution says. A statistical adjustment would be unconstitutional. In addition, we are convinced that “statistical” adjustment will inevitably lead to “political” adjustment. The incentive to corrupt the census adjustment process would be virtually beyond limit.

    Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p.136-38 , Jul 2, 1998

    Television is the wasteland of cynicism

    Gingrich is fond of putting himself in the place of the inner-city seven-year-old, a child used to violence, in a home without books, and, in too many cases, an unhappy young mother. The child watches television programs that portray businessmen as evil, politicians on the take, and policemen taking bribes. (He calls television "the wasteland of cynicism.") "If you're a little kid today who reads too much or speaks English that's too good, you get beaten up."
    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 53 , Jun 1, 1995

    Televise Congress: "C-Span is more real than being there"

    C-Span, the cable industry's cooperative network, had been televising Congress since the year Gingrich arrived in Washington. Gingrich understood that an overwhelming number of C-Span viewers were voters. In a memorable line to Atlanta reporters, Gingrich said, "C-Span is more real than being there."
    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p.103 , Jun 1, 1995

    Tax credit for inner-city computers: "Let them eat laptops"

    Gingrich's appetite for wide-ranging ideas--a sort of political version of "grazing" restaurants that specialize in light plates over sumptuous main courses--has led the intellectual class to dismiss him, despite his doctorate on European history from Tulane University. One Atlanta columnist was fond of using "loopy" to describe Gingrich's menu of interests and solutions. Even the Speaker himself is capable of recognizing his scattergun approach. "Maybe it's a nutty idea," he told the House Ways and Means Committee in January 1995, after mentioning that all policy options needed to be up for discussion, including a tax credit for laptop computers for very inner-city child. "Let them eat laptops," replied the opinion writers.
    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 12 , Jun 1, 1995

    Co-founded Congressional Space Caucus

    When Gingrich went to Congress in 1979, he focused on national defense, foreign policy, and the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars"). Ever the futurist, Gingrich co-founded the Congressional Space Caucus, leading critics to dub him "the congressman from outer space."

    In "Window of Opportunity," Gingrich wrote: "Imagine that the National Security Council had understood that an America which aggressively moved ahead in space would overawe the Russians. Imagine that business and individual leaders had been far-sighted enough to understand that a space industry would spin off earth-based jobs, using satellite antennas, new medicines, large surfaces and zero-gravity alloys. Finally, imagine a generation of educators who understood that young people need inspiration to motivate them to learn math and science, and that space was the adventure most likely to produce young Americans anxious to master these technical fields so essential to our survival."

    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 40-41 , Jun 1, 1995

    Abolish tax deferral for media sales to minorities

    In January, 1995, Republicans in the House moved to strike a 17-year-old preference in broadcast law that allowed station and cable system owners to defer capital gains from the sale of a property if it were sold to minorities. Murdoch's Fox Television Stations division was trying to sell its WATL-TV in Atlanta to a minority group financed by the Chicago Tribune Company. He stood to defer some $30 million in taxes through the sale. After the House killed the program, an exemption for Murdoch and the Tribune Company, was inserted in the Senate bill by Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois. Her amendment was approved in a House-Senate conference committee. Gingrich said he was opposed to the amendment and wanted the program abolished altogether, but th House was powerless to negotiate the one exemption away. President Clinton said he would refuse to veto the bill for much the same reason--it was a sound measure overall.
    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p.200 , Jun 1, 1995

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    Page last updated: May 31, 2012