And in the White House is a president who is eager to do battle with the judicial branch.
He can fire federal judges with whom he disagrees, and some new laws are written so that they cannot be reviewed by the courts.
These are all concepts of former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), the idea factory who is now a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. If implemented, they would add up to a government in the mold of Gingrich himself: ambitious, confrontational and complicated, with an expansive faith in the free market to solve society’s problems.
“It’s clear the country is talking to itself. And it’s clear that across the country, people are saying, you know, ‘I think we need Newt Gingrich,’ ” the candidate said Wednesday on Fox News Channel. “ ‘We need somebody with very substantial big ideas.’ ”
A review of Gingrich’s recent statements and debate arguments turns up more than 70 ideas, some substantial and others less so. They cover such topics as offshore drilling,
Iran and child labor.
Some hew closely to conservative GOP orthodoxy. Others urge a vast overhaul of federal benefit programs, using a two-track approach that would allow people to choose between old and new ideas. And others envision a historic reshaping of the way the U.S. government operates, largely by stripping the Supreme Court of its powers.
There are doubts about whether Gingrich’s big ideas could work. If he followed through on his plans to defy the high court, Gingrich could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis by putting it on shaky legal ground.
Many conservative scholars worry that Gingrich’s ideas may make already byzantine federal benefits programs even more complex.
“It’s the kind of thing that sounds right, maybe, when you sit on your couch and hear it,” said Steven Camarota, the research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports tougher immigration enforcement.
He was talking about Gingrich’s
idea to create local citizen boards, modeled on the boards that evaluated World War II draftees, to decide whether illegal immigrants should stay or go.
“But boy,” Camarota said, “when you take it all apart and think about how all this works in practice, it’s like, ‘ugh.’ ”
In an interview this week, Gingrich rejected the notion that he would create a larger, more unwieldy government.
“I have lots of ideas. But I don’t think you maniacally walk in and say, ‘Everything is in one direction,’ ” he said. As speaker, he said, “I increased spending on intelligence — against the Clinton administration desire — by $1 billion while fighting over balancing the federal budget. So you can have a mixed bag.”
Some of those 70-plus ideas are standard conservative fare, such as repealing President Obama’s health-care law and abolishing the Energy Department. Others are less so.