The Root reports: ABC News' Jake Tapper talked to GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich about topics including a defense of his charge that child-labor laws are stupid because poor children need to "learn how to go to work." We're pretty sure he wasn't kidding. Check out his idea in these highlights of the exchange:
“Look,” Gingrich said, “at a time when you have up to 43% black teenage unemployment, you have entire communities that are devastated, you have neighborhoods where nobody has worked and nobody has any habit of work ... "
“Young children who are poor ought to learn how to go to work,” he continued. “What I’ve said is, for example, it would be great if inner city schools and poor neighborhood schools actually hired the children to do things. Some of the things they could do is work in the library, work in the front office. Some of them frankly, could be janitorial ... "
"[W]hat if they cleaned out the bathrooms and what if they mopped the floors? What if in the summer they repainted the school? What if in that process they were actually learning to work, learning to earn money, they had money on their own, they didn’t have to become a pimp or a prostitute or a drug dealer, they had money on their own?
“Now that’s not a casual comment,” Gingrich said. “It actually grows out of a lot of thinking over many years of trying to figure out who do we break out people trapped in poverty who have no habits of work."
"I am sure for [President Obama] it [whether he has done enough for the black community] has to almost involve cognitive dissonance because how can he look in -- how can he say, ‘This is the community I have done so little for?’ “I think as Americans, forget the president for a moment, Americans if you truly believe you are endowed by our Creator with the right to pursue happiness, one of my major goals, is to apply that to the poorest neighborhoods in America in very very different ways and try to break out of what we have trapped people into for the last forty years.”
Hmmm, so after "a lot of years" of thinking about how to harness the potential of inner-city kids, Gingrich's most innovative and inspired idea involves cleaning bathrooms, and he thinks he understands better than Obama what "our Creator" would like to see for the African-American community?
Also, we're confused -- why are black and poor kids the only ones who need to do manual labor, while their wealthier peers get ahead academically? Sounds like a great recipe for perpetuating inequality instead of changing the structures that cause it. If Gingrich keeps it up with this type of policy brainstorming, he might be just the person to reignite passionate black support for the president's re-election.