Newt Gingrich on Families & Children

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


Let poor kids work so they learn like middle class

ROMNEY: Speaker Gingrich said that he would like to eliminate in some cases the child labor laws so that kids could clean schools. I don't agree with that idea.

GINGRICH: I think virtually every person up here worked at a young age. What I suggested was, kids ought to be allowed to work part-time in school, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods, both because they could use the money. If you take 1/2 of the New York janitors who are unionized and paid more than the teachers, an entry-level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher. You take half of those janitors, you could give lots of poor kids a work experience in the cafeteria and the school library and front office. I'll stand by the idea, young people ought to learn how to work. Middle class kids do it routinely. We should give poor kids the same chance to pursue happiness.

ROMNEY: To have kids work in the library does not require changing our child labor laws in this country.

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

Reward high-school girls who graduate as virgins

As part of his conservative stance, Newt Gingrich aims to impose order with a vision like a surreal projection of his own past; a family structure as strict as [his father] Bob Gingrich's military hierarchy and an educational system that, as he outlines for me, rewards high-school girls who graduate as virgins. In his book To Renew America, he suggests that one could communicate values to children by simply getting out "the Boy Scout or Girl Scout handbook, or go look at Reader's Digest and The Saturday Evening Post from around 1955." In his dream of perfection, as marketable and soothing as Father of the Bride, there are none of the ordinary dramas of family life.
Source: PBS Frontline: "The Inner Quest of Newt Gingrich" , Nov 11, 2011

Responsibility for child's education resides with parents

Our public school system is increasingly geared toward serving the needs of government employee unions and other special interest groups instead of the educational, moral, and emotional needs of our children. With public schools becoming increasingly bureaucratic, hostile to religious expression, and unresponsive to parental input, American families are increasingly choosing alternative education methods for their children such as private schools, charter schools, and homeschooling. Such options allow parents to customize their child's curriculum and learning environment, provide a safe environment free of drugs and violence, and impart strong religious values.

The point is not to demonize the public school system. Rather, the point is to reinforce the time-honored principle that the authority and responsibility to raise children, direct their education, and instill in them the values that make a free society flourish, all reside with the child's parents, not the state.

Source: A Nation Like No Other, by Newt Gingrich, p. 95 , Jun 13, 2011

Stop funding China's mandatory one-child policy

Source: To Save America, by Newt Gingrich, p.277-278 , May 17, 2010

Aging baby boomers need more independent & assisted living

Prepare for the aging of the baby boomers and their children so we can have active healthy aging with the best quality of life, the longest period of independent living, and the greatest prosperity. We will:
  1. Develop a system in which those who wish to stay economically active are encouraged and incentivized to do so because active people live longer and healthier, and are less of a burden on their fellow citizens;
  2. Develop a system of independent living and assisted living that increases the years in which people can be on their own and in most cases enables people to live their entire lives with freedom and dignity;
  3. Develop a new model of quality long-term care in which both the care and the quality of life are compatible with a twenty-first century American expectation of progress and innovation;
  4. Use new technologies to turn disabilities into capabilities and change government regulations to help every American achieve the fullest possible ability to pursue happiness.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org, “Issues” , Sep 1, 2007

OpEd: refused to pay child support, but supports DOMA

The proposed federal legislation called the Defense of Marriage Act is a preemptive response to the Hawaii State Supreme Court's anticipated decision in favor of the right of gays to be legally married. DOMA would make gay spouses ineligible for federal benefits and would allow a state to refuse recognition of gay marriage legally performed elsewhere. The bill is introduced by Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), who has been wed 3 times. And Mr. Gingrich himself is no slacker when it comes to marriage. His former wife, whom he divorced after her cancer operation, turned to the local church for help when Gingrich refused to pay child support. These are some of the main defenders of marriage taking the floor in the debate.

The Defense of Marriage Act is supported by EVERY Republican except Wisconsin's Steve Gunderson, who is openly gay. In fact, Gunderson provides some of the strongest and most emotional arguments on the floor against this absurd piece of legislation.

Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p.135 , Jun 17, 1997

Re-establish shame to enforce family values and behavior

In March 1995 I asserted that the time had come to reestablish shame as a means of enforcing proper behavior. It is shameful to be a public drunk at 3 in the afternoon and we ought to say so. It is shameful for males to have children they refuse to support and we ought to say so.

It is shameful for radio stations to play songs that advocate mutilating and raping women. Government can't and shouldn't censor it, but decent advertisers could announce they will boycott any radio station that plays that kind of music. Within weeks these brutal, barbaric songs would be off the air.

Cultural signals are a powerful and legitimate means of enforcing proper behavior. Our culture should be sending over and over the message that young people should abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage, that work is a part of life, and that any male who does not take care of his children is a bum and deserves no respect.

Source: Renew America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 77-78 , Jul 2, 1996

Child tax credit favors family budget over federal budget

Ironically, the most controversial part of the tax bill became the $500 per child tax credit. For parents with 3 children and an income of $40,000 a year, it would mean a $1500 tax break.

I always thought the issue was very simple. We believe that if you have children and earn money, you ought to have first claim on your money to care for your own children. Our liberal friends believe the bureaucrats deserve the money more than the parents.

The great surprise was that the income level at which the child tax credit would be cut off became a big issue. Originally, we had no limit. However, a number of members felt uncomfortable about giving the credit to the very wealthy, and we compromised at $200,000 in joint income. Frankly, setting any limit was probably an error. There is a class warfare mentality that infects the Washington press corps and sets the tone of much of the debate in Washington.

Source: Renew America, by Newt Gingrich, p.134-135 , Jul 2, 1996

No society can survive with 12-year-olds having babies

Think of the major cultural indicators: rising crime, teen pregnancy, millions of abortions, and low levels of achievement in schools across the nation. Many of these problems are 5 times worse than they were just a generation ago. Taken in total, those statistics threaten us all. As Speaker Gingrich noted in a 1994 speech on Capitol Hill:

"No society can survive, no civilization can survive with 12-year-olds having babies, with 15-year-olds killing each other, with 17-year-olds dying of AIDS, & with 18-year-olds getting diplomas they can't read."

More have noted that the decline of morality in our society has occurred since 1960, during the most aggressively antireligion activity by "reformers." It is troubling enough that all these indicators are so much worse than they were 35 years ago. What is even more troubling for those who love America is that society now is not different just in degree but almost in kind from the America of 1960.

Source: Agenda For America, by Haley Barbour, p.157-158 , Apr 25, 1996

Marriage penalty costs low-income couples $4,600 per year

Americans, Gingrich believes, are not rule-dominated; they are incentive-dominated. Because of this, today's welfare incentives are backwards in a democratic, entrepreneurial society.

His favorite example: the tax code's marriage penalty, or that part that affects lower-income citizens. Gingrich used the example of a man earning $11,000 a year who wanted to marry a woman earning the same amount. Because each taxpayer would be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a marriage ceremony and license would cost the couple $4,000 a year.

"And then you have politicians," Gingrich says, "who say, 'Gee, we have too many births out of wedlock.' And your government wants to encourage you to get married by taking from you 25% of your income?"

Gingrich doesn't blame individuals for socially damaging behavior. His target is the system that fosters it. He wants instead a system that guides citizens to the proper choices.

Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 43 , Jun 1, 1995

1979: his marriage collapsed because "all humans sin"

When Newt went to Washington in 1979, [his first wife] Jackie went with him. But she didn't stay long. She had been diagnosed with uterine cancer the year before and was undergoing treatment. The couple tried counseling, but separated. Gingrich has said they discussed a divorce for 11 years, but Jackie insisted on trying to save the marriage.

Over the years, a body of lore has been compiled about the marriage and what broke it: Gingrich is said to have told a friend that Jackie wasn't young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of a president. He denies those comments.

When asked why his marriage ended, Gingrich never has denied that he broke his marriage vows: He confirmed in many forums, "I'm human, and all human beings sin."

The fires were fueled in 1981, when just a few months after his divorce, Gingrich married Marianne Ginther. She was 15 years younger than Jackie. A body of stories developed that is still circulating today concerning alleged affairs with unnamed women.

Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 94-95 , Jun 1, 1995

Co-established bipartisan task force on the family

Today we had a bipartisan service. It talked about caring about our spouses, and our children, and our families. Because if we're not prepared to model that, beyond just having them here for one day, if we're not prepared to care about our children, and we're not prepared to care about our families, then by what arrogance do we think we will transcend our behavior to care about others? That's why with Congressman [Richard] Gephardt's help, we've established a bipartisan task force on the family. We've established the principle that we're going to set schedules we stick to so families can count on times to be together, built around the school schedules, so that families can get to know each other and not just on C-Span.
Source: Inaugural Speaker speech, in Newt!, by D.Williams, p. 220 , Jan 4, 1995

It's conceivable I was insensitive during my divorce

One of the reasons I ended up getting a divorce [from Jackie] was that if I was disintegrating enough as a person that I could not say [things in public that were consistent with my private life], then I needed to get my life straight, not quit saying them.
--Mother Jones, November 1984

All I can say is when you've been talking about divorce for 11 years and you've gone to a marriage counselor, and the other person doesn't want the divorce, I'm not sure there is any sensitive way to handle it.
--The Washington Post, January 3, 1985

I'm willing to say, having one through the last five and six years and having understood that--as an incorrigible bulldozer-- it's conceivable I was that insensitive. It was never in any sense deliberate.
--Commenting on the story that he asked for a divorce while Jackie was in the hospital recovering from a cancer operation, The Washington Post, June 12, 1989

Source: Quotations from Speaker Newt, by A.&P. Bernstein, p. 14-5 , Jan 1, 1995

Welfare system destroys the family; replace welfare state

The American people have every right politically to have a revolution. Our revolution ought to be at the ballot box. I believe that revolution is necessary. I can't imagine America being successful and safe and prosperous in the 21st century if you have schools that don't teach, a welfare system that destroys the family, a drug culture, and all the things we currently have.

So if you don't have a revolution, you're going to have a country which is decaying. And I think our goal is very simple. It is our goal to replace the welfare state. Not to reform it, not to improve it, not to modify it, to replace it. To go straight at the core structure and the core values of the welfare state, and replace them with a much more powerful, much more effective system.
--Remarks at the Young Republicans Leadership Conference, Washington D.C. March 19, 1992

Source: Quotations from Speaker Newt, by A.&P. Bernstein, p. 28 , Jan 1, 1995

Families are not anything other than heterosexual couples

I think that on most things most days, the vast majority of practicing homosexuals are good citizens. So why would you say that of all the different groups you can pick on, this is the one group that you are going to single out?

[The Republican Party's position] should be toleration. It should not be promotion and it should not be condemnation. I don't want to see police in the men's room, which we had when I was a child, and I don't want to see trying to educate kindergartners in understanding gay couples.

It is madness to pretend that families are anything other than heterosexual couples. I think it goes to the core of how civilization functions.
--The Washington Blade. November 25, 1994

Source: Quotations from Speaker Newt, by A.&P. Bernstein, p.129 , Jan 1, 1995

Welfare incentives encourage teen pregnancy

Myth: Cutting off a meager check for a welfare mom will not deter teen pregnancy.

Fact: Republicans understand one important thing ignored by most Democrats--incentives affect behavior. Currently, the federal government provides young girls the following deal: Have an illegitimate baby and taxpayers will guarantee you cash, food stamps, and medical care, plus a host of other benefits. As long as you stay single and don't work, we'll continue giving you benefits worth a minimum of $12,000 per year ($3,000 more than a full-time job paying a minimum wage). It's time to change the incentives and make responsible parenthood the norm and not the exception.

Source: Contract With America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 75 , Dec 26, 1994

Enforce child support

    The Family Reinforcement Act:
  1. protects parents' rights to supervise their children's participation in any federally funded program and shield them from federally sponsored surveys that involve intrusive questioning;
  2. requires states to give "full faith and credit" to child support orders issued by the courts or the administrative procedures of other states;
  3. provides a refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for families adopting a child;
  4. strengthens penalties for child pornography and criminal sexual conduct involving minors; and
  5. provides a $500 tax credit for families caring for a dependent elderly parent or grandparent.
Source: Contract With America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 80 , Dec 26, 1994

Use tax code to reinforce families.

Gingrich wrote the Contract with America:

[As part of the Contract with America, within 100 days we pledge to bring to the House Floor the following bill]:

The Families Reinforcement Act:
Child support enforcement, tax incentives for adoption, strengthening rights of parents in their children’s education, stronger child pornography laws, and an elderly dependent care tax credit to reinforce the central role of families in American society.
Source: Contract with America 93-CWA6 on Sep 27, 1994

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Page last updated: Oct 28, 2021