Political Notebook

In N.H., Gingrich offers tax plans

Associated Press / April 5, 2011

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, in his third visit to New Hampshire in three weeks, laid out several tax proposals yesterday, saying they would trigger an explosion of investment and new jobs.

Getting people off unemployment, welfare, and Medicaid rolls and into the work force is the best way to balance the federal budget, Gingrich told students at Saint Anselm College in Manchester during the first of three scheduled stops in New Hampshire.

The possible Republican presidential candidate said the goal should be to get the unemployment rate down from levels as high as 11 1/2 percent to 4 percent, which he said was the rate when he led the House in the 1990s.

“That shift of 7 1/2 percent [for people] who are depending on the government [into] being taxpayers is the single biggest step you can take back toward balancing the budget,’’ he said.

Gingrich called for reducing to zero the capital gains tax, making permanent the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, allowing companies to write off 100 percent of new equipment purchases in the first year, and eliminating the estate tax.

He also called for a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, saying a reasonable tax rate would stop such companies as General Electric from sheltering profits to avoid paying federal taxes.

Gingrich said jobs began to be added after President Obama extended the Bush tax cuts but businesses would remain leery of adding jobs because those tax cuts are set to expire in 2013.

“It’s not bad luck that we have high unemployment; it’s bad policies,’’ he said.

Gingrich said that he expected to open a campaign office soon in Georgia and that if he decides to run for president, he probably will announce it next month.

Blagojevich seeks notes on FBI Obama interviews
CHICAGO — Rod Blagojevich asked a judge yesterday to order the government to hand over notes of any FBI interviews with President Obama about the ousted Illinois governor’s corruption case. Blagojevich’s retrial is set to begin in less than three weeks.

The request for the notes related to Obama, who has never been accused of any wrongdoing in the matter, came in a motion filed with the US District Court in Chicago. Presiding Judge James Zagel rejected a similar request before Blagojevich’s first trial last year.

Blagojevich, 54, faces 20 charges, including allegations that he sought to sell or trade an appointment to Obama’s vacated US Senate seat for a top job or campaign cash. Jurors at his first trial deadlocked on all but one count, convicting him on a lone count of lying to the FBI. His retrial is to start April 20.

In the motion, the defense says the notes could “go directly to the heart of testimony of several government witnesses,’’ particularly that of Chicago-based union leader and longtime Obama ally Tom Balanoff. He told jurors during the first trial that he talked to Obama about the Senate seat on the eve of the 2008 president election.

Balanoff testified last year that Obama told him he preferred that family friend Valerie Jarrett continue to work with him in the White House but that she wanted to be senator and had the qualifications.

“I thanked him and I said I was going to reach out to Governor Blagojevich and speak on Valerie’s behalf,’’ Balanoff testified.

Defense lawyers say Balanoff’s testimony about the call appeared to contradict some other accounts and that Obama interview notes could help clarify the issue.