Rep. Peter King for Speaker?
Jude Wanniski
July 21, 1997


Memo To: Rep. Peter King
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: House Speaker

Your comments on "Fox News Sunday" were extremely salutary. Having been the earliest and most outspoken in public in urging the replacement of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, it is good to see you ask for a temporary cease fire, in order that the party close ranks in negotiating with the President on the budget and taxes. In fact, your Sunday comments demonstrated the kind of wisdom that is required of leadership at the level of House Speaker. I was not surprised when Rep. Jim Nussle  mentioned you as a possible Speaker down the line.  I send along two pieces I did last week, the first on the “GOP Three-Legged Stool,” written early in the week before the news of the coup attempt. The second makes the point that the stock market decline late in the week coincided with the news of the coup attempt, as it again puts in jeopardy the tax cuts on capital formation. Did you note that Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin told "Meet the Press" that a cut in the capital gains tax would have no effect on economic growth and may even be negative? The Forces of Darkness are really dug in.

One of the problems with Newt is that he has never understood the mechanisms that underlie economic growth. If he did, he never would have agreed to the $500 kiddie credit, extracted from him by Gary Bauer and Ralph Reed. This has been a millstone around his neck for the last three years. His agreement to do without dynamic tax analysis was another giveaway that demoralized the Reaganauts, as that was the one thing we thought we could get with GOP control of the House. If we can’t argue economic growth as the rationale for tax cuts, we must fight this dismal fight against the Democrats on their turf, income distribution, which is almost impossible to win. Again and again, Newt has given away the best weapons in his arsenal, which is what happens to a man when he is beaten so thoroughly by another man. (“Please don’t hurt me anymore, sir, and I will give you anything you want if you don’t.”)

My idea all along was that Rep. Henry Hyde should be brought in as a caretaker Speaker, to permit the party to repair itself. Hyde is the one man who could go before the people and have credibility in arguing that the President is being unreasonable in his negotiating demands. If in the period ahead it appears that it really is not possible to continue with Newt in power, I’d suggest you talk to Hyde about being an interim Speaker, a gentle fatherly figure who could be just what the party needs to confound the White House and win ground for the GOP in the 106th Congress.