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Keep The Focus On Substance, Not Style


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KEEP THE FOCUS ON SUBSTANCE, NOT STYLE

Often, the difficulty conservatives have with the elite media has as much to do with journalistic sloppiness as it does with bias. In the framing story next to my interview ("The Speaker comes down from the mountain," News: Analysis & Commentary, May 20), you state I was "accusing President Clinton of lying to voters." Not bothering to examine the substance of those comments, you assert my statements as "bad for the troubled GOP," referring to me as "Newt the Knife."

It is my belief that the President, the Democratic Party, and their allies--including unions, trial lawyers, and the media--have helped spread disinformation about many Republican initiatives. Our Medicare-reform package is the most dramatic example, as Republicans were continually accused of "cutting" the program, when under our reforms the per-beneficiary spending increases each year. I find willfully spreading that kind of information to be deceptive and, ultimately, destructive to public debate. Why, then, is the focus on my style and "accusations" and not on the substance of my statements, i.e. the veracity of the President's rhetoric?

BUSINESS WEEK then refers to my "grandiose--and largely unfulfilled--Contract With America." Again, some basic homework might have borne more accurate results. We kept our promise. Here are the results of the Contract items:

1.Eight out of ten Contract items passed the House and Senate (whose Republicans did not sign the Contract, yet, under Bob Dole's leadership, still worked to get the items passed).

2.The only Contract items not passed in both chambers were constitutional amendments for term limits and balanced budgets--each requiring two-thirds majorities.

3.The Congressional Accountability Act--bringing Congress under the same laws as private employers--signed into law.

4.Line-item veto--signed into law.

5.Unfunded mandate reforms--signed into law.

6.Securities litigation reform--became law over the President's veto.

7.Crucial crime reforms including: victim restitution, effective death penalty, violent-criminal incarceration, criminal-alien deportation, and local-governmental law-enforcement bloc grants--all signed into law.

8.Senior-citizen earnings-limit increase--signed into law.

9.Sexual crimes against children--signed into law.

These items did not become law:

1.First balanced budget produced in 26 years--vetoed.

2.Welfare reform sent to President twice--vetoed.

3. Middle-class tax cut sent to President--vetoed.

4. Strong national defense provisions--vetoed.

5. Product liability reform--vetoed.

Also, the 104th Congress completed action on the biggest telecom and farm-bill reforms in six decades. To say the Contract was "largely unfulfilled" suggests a failing on the part of Republicans. We kept our promises. The President in vetoing the balanced budget, tax cuts, and welfare reform (twice) broke his 1992 campaign promises.

Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)

Speaker

House of Representatives

WashingtonReturn to top

HE'S NOT TRYING TO CLIP THE WINGS OF FASB

I was surprised to read "How a corporate watchdog nearly lost its bite," (Economic Viewpoint, May 20) BY ROBERT KUTTner, which characterized activities of trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) as a campaign to clip the wings of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). I was especially puzzled by his perception that I led a "recent attack on FASB independence." In actuality, as president of the FAF, I have spoken out numerous times in defense of private-sector standard setting and the need to preserve the independence of FASB.

The article erroneously states that a letter I wrote proposed "to rein in FASB by reducing its agenda-setting powers." My letter contains no such statement or inference, and I was astonished that anyone who read the letter could have so badly misstated what I wrote. The FAF and FASB, working with the SEC are striving to ensure that corporate financial reporting continues to provide complete and reliable financial information through private-sector standard setting.

J. Michael Cook, Chairman

Deloitte & Touche

New York

President

Financial Accounting Foundation

Norwalk, Conn.Return to top


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