WASHINGTON — PRESIDENT Clinton is "very smart," but he may be rushing down the wrong paths on issues involving Social Security and homosexuals in the military, says Rep. Newt Gingrich, House minority whip.
Representative Gingrich (R) of Georgia warns that Mr. Clinton would make a major mistake if he decides to freeze cost-of-living increases for Social Security retirees. Reports from the White House indicate Clinton may support a one-year freeze to trim the federal deficit.
At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Gingrich said: "This is a specific effort to rip off senior citizens, to transfer the money to the current operating welfare state."
Before asking any taxpayers to sacrifice, the president should shrink the federal bureaucracy, Gingrich says. The government in Washington should go through the same kind of downsizing now being felt at Sears, International Business Machines, General Motors, and other large corporations, Gingrich argues.
"To come in and say, everybody's going to have to sacrifice - but that doesn't mean the public employee unions ... it doesn't mean the bureaucrats, [is] probably not a message this country is going to receive very well."
Gingrich says Clinton is equally wrong to support the integration of homosexuals into the nation's military forces. He says discipline and morale will be undermined, and Clinton should defer on this issue to the experience of the military chiefs.
Gingrich accuses the president of using the gays-in-the-military issue to "engage in social engineering," even though Clinton and his aides have "the lowest level of understanding of military activities of any administration certainly in the last 60 years."
Unless Clinton retreats, he is "going to destroy the Reagan-Bush momentum [toward a strong military] and get us back to Jimmy Carter's demoralized military," Gingrich says.