From NBC's Ali Weinberg
Speaking today at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that President Obama should "calm down and slow down" with his push to pass health-care legislation. "If President Obama would calm down and slow down, go to the country and genuinely listen, he could introduce a new bill by October 1," he said.
Most of Gingrich's four-hour presentation today outlined his plans for budget reform. He did, however, save time to talk about the health-care debate playing out in congressional districts around the country.
Gingrich said that legislators' canceling town-hall meetings because of aggressive health care protests -- and even some death threats -- is "exactly wrong."
"You need the town-hall meetings," Gingrich said. "You need to hear what people are saying. If they have the wrong information, give them the right information. If they're hostile, let them be hostile."
Gingrich touched on opinion on the end-of-life provisions currently being proposed in the House bills. The former speaker said he could cite conversations he's had with people currently working on the proposals who say that people with dementia will be lower on the priority list to receive care.
He also said that, along with advocating for more money to be spent on Alzheimer's research, he "didn't suggest" a cheaper way to house senior citizens or allow "government bureaucracy to decide when to cut off treatment."
Former Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith also spoke at the event, detailing the budget changes he made during his tenure. He said he was able to save $189 million by privatizing the city's wastewater treatment facilities, signing a contract with United Water Indianapolis that will last through 2017.
"Competition drives results," Goldsmith said, adding that privatization can be applied to "almost any public activity," including 80 in Indianapolis.
Goldsmith also praised New York City's 311 dial-in government information system. "It's just a citizen asking the government to do a certain activity," which Goldsmith said proves government can harness digital tools in ways that are not just unilateral, but allow a dialogue between officials and citizens.
Throughout the four-hour presentation, Gingrich demonstrated his grasp of the classics, quoting, among others, George Orwell, Albert Camus, and Victor Hugo.