Punchlines ripped from the headlines

Newt Gingrich on "Leno": Shutdown "Not a Crisis"

Gingrich was the House Speaker during the last government shutdown in 1995-1996 that lasted 21 days and spoke of his experiences negotiating with former President Bill Clinton trying to hash out a deal

By Vishal Persaud
|  Thursday, Oct 3, 2013  |  Updated 11:45 AM EDT
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    Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared on the "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno Wednesday and the topic of discussion was of course the government shutdown.

    Gingrich said the nation's first government shutdown in 17 years could be resolved if Republicans and Democrats would be open to negotiation with each other.

    But he said the shutdown, "is not a crisis. It's part of the legislative process. It's part of the way Congress and President bang heads."

    On Wednesday, the nation headed into its second day of the shutdown as lawmakers in Washington continued to negotiate over passing a routine funding measure.

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    Negotiations between President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid failed to make any headway and yield a resolution in the ongoing impasse.

    Gingrich was the House Speaker during the last government shutdown in 1995-1996 that lasted 21 days and spoke of his experiences negotiating with former President Bill Clinton trying to hash out a deal.

    "The thing about Bill Clinton is – he would talk, under any circumstances, he would talk," Gingrich said. "But what that did, it got you into a room."

    Those talks prompted several discussions between the two, which ended in deals that made compromises – something that apparently isn't happening between President Barack Obama and the current House Speaker John Boehner.

    Gingrich was under the impression that the president, in his talks with Boehner, outright refused to negotiate with the House speaker.

    "If you think about it, it's really tricky to get to part two of that conversation," Gingrich said.

    Jay Leno pointed out that Obama's relationship with congressional Republicans is a lot more contentious that Clinton's was with the GOP.

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    "Nobody said to Bill Clinton, his first week in office, that our main goal is to make you a one term president and get you out of here," Leno said. "There’s a lot more animosity towards Obama."

    Gingrich said the president shouldn't give in to Republicans' demands but he believes the two sides ought to find some middle ground.

    Leno, however, couldn't understand why GOP wants Obama to negotiate key elements of the Affordable Care Act.

    "It passed both houses, the Supreme Court said yes, it’s legitimate, it’s now a law," said Leno of the health care reform. "It’s like playing a football game. People say we don’t like the outcome, let’s play again."

    As for the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers, Gingrich said he believed that once the impasse is over, those workers would receive retroactive pay.

    And he also made a suggestion to the president, vice president and members of the House and Senate concerning their guaranteed salaries during the government shutdown.

    "As long as you have this deadlock, you ought to give your salaries to charity. I think that would be a very reasonable interim step," he said.


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