Reforms in unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation are needed to dismantle the “welfare state” that is preventing the nation from competing in a new world market, House Speaker Newt Gingrich told his college class Saturday.
“If you’re not at work, why are we paying you?” he asked the class at Reinhardt College in north Georgia. “It’s not called a vacation fund.”
Gingrich said the nation’s top goal in the global market must be job creation - which has been a centerpiece of President Clinton’s agenda.
U.S. government bureaucracy works against jobs creation, Gingrich said.
He cited unemployment insurance and workers’ comp as examples of government programs that discourage job creation by encouraging outof-work people to sit and collect money instead of learning new skills.
He described worker’s comp as a “lawyer’s gravy train” and said both systems ought to be revamped with job retraining - rather than monetary compensation - their main element.
Later, at a state GOP luncheon, Gingrich threw a political challenge to Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., a key swing vote on the balanced budget amendment.
Nunn said last week that he favored such an amendment but was concerned that it might give the courts power to intervene to balance the budget should Congress fail to do so.
Gingrich said he had talked to Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, “and we are prepared today to commit to Senator Nunn that we will move in the House and pass the binding implementation language which would block the courts from doing any of the things that he was worried about.”
Gingrich said he hoped those assurances would convince Nunn to vote for the balanced budget amendment.
Nunn’s press secretary, Cathy O’Brien, said she could not comment until the senator had a chance to talk to Gingrich.
Nunn was slated to return from Haiti on Saturday night.
The class on the world market was the eighth in a 10-week course “Renewing American Civilization” that the Georgia Republican is teaching.
Gingrich, whose class has been attacked by critics as a vehicle for partisan politics, did not take any individual political entity to task.
He devoted much of his lecture to contrasting the “welfare state” and the “entrepreneurial society,” which he said is characterized by smaller government as well as smaller, more innovative businesses.
Saturday’s two-hour lecture included videos touting the entrepreneurial spirit of such companies as McDonald’s, the Chili’s restaurant chain and Hewlett-Packard.