Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

Newt U is now in session

TAMPA — He wanted to be president of the United States, but this week Newt Gingrich must settle for president of Newt U.

Newt University is the Republican National Convention's official series of "public policy workshops" for delegates, journalists and party activists. Gingrich, the former House speaker and onetime Republican candidate for president, leads a rotating crop of ad hoc professors who will hold court on themes ranging from "We Can Do Better" to "We Believe in America" in different hotels through Thursday.

The two-hour seminars aren't exactly academic affairs. When Gingrich opened the series Monday at the downtown Hyatt Regency, the dominant theme on the syllabus was Medicare or, more specifically, what the professors characterized as President Barack Obama's effort to kill it.

Gingrich said he'd been "startled" by Democrats' attempts to distort the impact of Obama's health care law. He told his pupils, many of them Wisconsin delegates who came to hear Gov. Scott Walker speak, that Republicans struggled with the following problem:

"We tell the truth less effectively than Democrats lie."

He launched into a brief discussion of the Republican presidential ticket's Medicare plan.

For seniors age 55 and up, he said, "Nothing affects you, and Barack Obama has taken $716 billion from you. … You talk about who's tearing up Medicare, and it's Obama."

PolitiFact, the fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times, rated a similar claim by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney Half True. The law doesn't cut $716 billion from the Medicare budget, but rather institutes a number of changes to bring down future costs.

PolitiFact also rated the claim that the Republican plan does not "affect" seniors over 55 as Half True. If Republicans repeal the health care law, that would also repeal provisions that give seniors preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs and additional help with prescription drug coverage.

Another teacher at Monday's event, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, said in her lecture that Obama's plan to reduce certain Medicare reimbursement rates would be harmful to seniors.

"The administration would like you to believe that living to a ripe old age is a burden on the public coffers," she said before solemnly adding: "Living to a ripe old age happens to be a good value."

Other speakers included Walker, the Wisconsin governor, who received a standing ovation. He spoke about his efforts to reduce tax rates and institute public education changes, including ending tenure.

Pupils wandered in and out of the lectures, some listening intently, some reading newspapers. Mary Ann Waldenmeyer, a 67-year-old alternate delegate from Kansas, stood out for wearing a hat (a block of cheese, to honor her Wisconsin roots).

She said Newt U didn't introduce her to new material, but did elaborate on subjects with which she was familiar. "A lot of the numbers were clearer," she said.

Charles and Mary Rose Spano, a husband and wife from Scranton, Pa., said the lectures were the highlight of a slow Monday. Mary Rose, 67, is an alternate delegate.

Though about 150 people, a third of them journalists, attended Monday's lectures, more than 1,000 people registered online, according to organizers.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.

   
Comments
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18