Newt Gingrich said Sunday that an "age of austerity" is the wrong solution for the economy and would "punish" the American people. He said he prefers "pro-growth" policies instead. The comments appear to pour cold water on the modern Republican belief that austerity and growth go hand in hand.
The 2012 Republican presidential candidate was asked by NBC's David Gregory on "Meet The Press" whether his hopes for a U.S. colony on the moon fly in the face of the GOP's fiscal responsibility mantra. Gingrich responded with some choice words about austerity itself before defending his lunar ambitions.
"First of all, David, I don't think you'll ever find me talking about an age of austerity. I don't think that's the right solution," Gingrich said. "I am a pro-growth Republican. I'm a pro-growth conservative. I think the answer is to grow the economy, not to punish the American people with austerity."
His comments are remarkable in that they appear to contradict the core economic belief of the modern Republican Party that Gingrich hopes to lead. In this era of high deficits, austerity is routinely heralded by conservatives and GOP lawmakers as the path to economic prosperity, and the party was successful last year in keeping the issue atop the 2011 legislative agenda.
Gingrich's belief seems to gibe more closely with the basic liberal argument that in a troubled economy, austerity measures are counterproductive to recovery.
The former House Speaker did not elaborate. He made the comments the morning after he was easily defeated by Mitt Romney in the Nevada caucuses.