Tony Blankley / July 6, 2011

Newt’s Ideas Worth Considering

One would be hard-pressed to find a better example of sheer misguided reporting than the story in The Washington Post last weekend in which it was reported that “Newt Gingrich thinks he can revive his debilitated campaign by talking about Alzheimer’s. … For most presidential candidates, Alzheimer’s is a third- or fourth-tier subject, at best. But as Gingrich sees it, Alzheimer’s, as well as other niche topics such as military families’ concerns and pharmaceutical issues, are priorities. … By offering himself as a champion of pet causes, Gingrich believes he can sew together enough narrow constituencies to make a coalition – an unconventional one, yes, but a coalition nevertheless.”

One would be hard-pressed to find a better example of sheer misguided reporting than the story in The Washington Post last weekend in which it was reported that “Newt Gingrich thinks he can revive his debilitated campaign by talking about Alzheimer’s. … For most presidential candidates, Alzheimer’s is a third- or fourth-tier subject, at best. But as Gingrich sees it, Alzheimer’s, as well as other niche topics such as military families’ concerns and pharmaceutical issues, are priorities. … By offering himself as a champion of pet causes, Gingrich believes he can sew together enough narrow constituencies to make a coalition – an unconventional one, yes, but a coalition nevertheless.”

Now, I admit, Newt is my old boss, and I am a friend and great admirer of Newt’s – so I am hardly an unbiased source. But I also happen to be pretty familiar with Newt’s public ideas over the years.

And to read the article in question, one would think that Newt thought up this little “niche” Alzheimer’s issue a couple of weeks ago – just in time for his revived campaign. Well, in fact, I remember Newt talking to me about the coming crisis in Alzheimer’s disease back in the 1990s. And in 2007, the Alzheimer’s Association, along with the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, called for the creation of the Alzheimer’s Study Group. Newt was named co-chairman (along with former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey).

On March 20, 2009, they reported back to the Democratic-controlled Senate. Newt and study group member and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. You should watch the hearing from C-SPAN’s archives. Newt’s testimony was brilliant. Senators – both Democratic and Republican – asked Newt question after question and were enthralled with his deep understanding of the issue. Newt even offered, spontaneously in the hearing, an explanation of the unique challenges of the mathematical processes in Alzheimer’s research.

Although the reporter of the article last weekend obviously doesn’t know, Alzheimer’s is not a “niche” issue.

The bipartisan study Newt co-chaired reported that unless there are breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and reduction in the rate of Alzheimer’s, Medicare and Medicaid will spend nearly $20 trillion on the treatment and care of the disease by the middle of the century – $1 trillion a year by 2050.

The report explained: “The Alzheimer’s crisis, like the disease itself, will unfold gradually, making it all too easy to ignore until we have little opportunity to alter its impact. … If we fail to address the Alzheimer’s crisis now, we face the prospect of losing lives and dollars on much larger scale. … Alzheimer’s disease is already the Nation’s third most expensive disease, costing the Federal Government alone more than $100 billion per year. … An investment in Alzheimer’s is not only good social policy, it is an economic necessity.”

Yeah, just another $20 trillion “niche” issue. The fact that the Post story was correct in saying that for most presidential candidates, Alzheimer’s is a third- or fourth-tier issue is not a good argument for the other candidates.

Breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s and diabetes – another issue Newt has seen coming and been fighting hard for at least since the 1995 Medicare reform bill – would, by themselves, largely solve our Medicare and Medicaid cost problems. Too bad Washington didn’t take Newt’s advice two decades ago.

Consider the other “niche” and “pet” issues the Post story sneered at Newt for discussing – pharmaceutical costs and taking care of military families. Well, pharmaceutical therapy is now “the cornerstone of modern medicine,” according to David J. Gibson, M.D. “It is the primary mode of treatment for over 85 percent of conditions that, without therapy, would result in the need for hospitalization of the patient.” It is approaching 20 percent of medical expenses – and going up fast. Some “pet” issue.

As for the cost of taking care of our veterans and military families, anyone remotely familiar with the projections of the defense budget knows that if we don’t both improve the attitude toward and better manage the cost, we will risk both a lower volunteer rate and an unsustainable cost increase. Once again, Newt has been advocating shrewdly about this matter at least since the 1990s, when he used to discuss it with me and others. Of course, Newt came from a military family, so he had an unfair advantage in understanding the issue.

At a time when the combined intellect of the Congress and the executive branch can’t seem to think its way to even an interim solution to a single problem on our nation’s ever-expanding list of dreadful problems, perhaps the media (and the public) might want to stop sneering and take a serious look at Newt’s “ideas.” He’s got a lot of them – and every one would be an improvement over current trends (about which about 3 in 4 Americans believe we are going in the wrong direction).

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.