Gingrich: No pay for work
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DES MOINES, IOWA -- In response to sagging poll numbers ahead of Tuesday's caucuses, Republican presidential hopeful and former frontrunner Newt Gingrich unveiled a plan to decouple wages from jobs that he insists will bolster a struggling economy.
The plan, Gingrich's first major policy announcement since unveiling his child labor initiative last month, would give businesses the option of paying employees in something other than money.
"In this time of economic crisis, we must re-examine this outmoded system of financial compensation for work performed," Gingrich said in a speech before the Iowa Chamber of Commerce. "Government must free job creators from the burden of paying employees with currency. That's currency businesses could use to expand and to create jobs -- although they are under no obligation to do so. Actually, there's nothing stopping them from simply pocketing this windfall.
"Nothing whatsoever," Gingrich added.
Instead of money, the plan calls for businesses to pay employees in the form of tickets redeemable for merchandise at Dave and Buster's Restaurant, Bar and Arcade.
Children enrolled in Gingrich's child-labor initiative would receive tickets redeemable at Chuck E. Cheese's.
Stopping short of abolishing payment in the form of money, the plan would simply reduce the federal minimum wage to zero.
"And we would let our partners in the business community do the rest," Gingrich said.
The plan already has received a warm reception among congressional Republicans, with both House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicating that they would support such a plan, but only if it were accompanied by concessions from Democrats.
The announcement comes on the heels of Gingrich's child labor initiative, which polled well among Republican voters.
Gingrich's jobs plan for children, widely referred to as the "Clean the School You Once Attended" initiative, would teach financially disadvantaged children in poor school districts the value of underpaid menial labor through what Gingrich calls "little-hands-on" experience.
Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond pointed out that the plan would free struggling school districts from the burden placed on them by "greedy janitors." In addition, he said, because the plan calls for pulling students away from classroom instruction for two thirds of every school week, the plan also addresses the potential problem of an educated lower class.
"I think the problems that would present are self-evident," Hammond said.
Correction: A previous version of this story reported that Gingrich introduced this plan in a speech before a joint meeting of the Iowa Nazi Party and a local klavern of the Ku Klux Klan. Although the confusion is entirely understandable, we regret the error.