By Tom Quiner
Newt Gingrich said he is “100 percent sure” he doesn’t want an official role in the incoming Trump administration.
I hope he changes his mind.
I would love to see Newt Gingrich ensconced as Secretary of Health and Human Services. I’d like to see the man who was a driving force in landmark welfare reform legislation replace Sylvia Matthews Burwell as Secretary of HHS.
The motto of this sprawling agency is “improving the health, safety, and well-being of America.” To that aim, President Obama and former Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sibelius, believed the best way to do that is to treat human life as a disease and trample on our religious liberty with their HHS mandate on religious institutions, a path the current secretary continues on.
Newt Gingrich would undo their warped view of HHS his first sixty seconds as Secretary.
HHS is a sprawling bureaucracy with 67,000 employees and a $700 billion budget.
What would be Mr. Gingrich’s vision for HHS if he became its Secretary? We can get a clue from his book, A Nation Like No Other, Why American Exceptionalism Matters:
“In 1996, welfare reform returned the share of federal spending on the program to each state in the form of a “block grant” to be used in a new welfare program.
The key to the 1996 reforms was that the new block grants to each state were finite, not matching, so federal funding did not vary with the amount the state spent.
If a state’s new program cost more, the state had to pay the extra costs itself. If the program cost less, the state could keep the savings.
There was just one problem with the 1996 reforms: they only reformed one federal program. The federal government sponsors another 184 means tested welfare programs, including Medicaid, Food Stamps, 27 low-income housing programs, 30 employment and training programs, 34 social services programs, and 24 low-income child care programs, among others. All these programs could and should be block-granted back to the states just as AFDC was in 1996, effectively shedding the federal government of responsibility for welfare.”
A Newt Gingrich would approach the mammoth task of reforming the HHS as a collaborative effort with the states as opposed to the top down, cram-it-down-your-throat approach preferred by President Obama.
Liberals think that conservatives hate government. I don’t think that is quite correct. Conservatives believe government functions most efficiently the closer it gets to the people it is serving. It very much mirrors the structure of the Catholic Church which believes in the principal of subsidiarity, which Wikipedia describes this way:
“Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority.”
I sit on the Commission of Community Action Agencies here in Iowa and witness first-hand efficient government in action, because it is government close to the people.
Mr. Gingrich shares that view. I’d like to seem him as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
We need him at HHS.