[MATT] LAUER: Let's talk about cutting, cutting the deficit here. You've said, you're thinking more seriously now than ever about running for president. Let's say I make you president right now. Congratulations. And I give you what a lot of people are predicting - a Republican-controlled House and Senate. That means you've got to make some really tough choices in terms of cutting this deficit. What are you willing to say? And name it by name, that you would be willing to cut right now to cut deficits.
GINGRICH: First of all, you just may, create a nightmare for virtually every Democrat watching the show, so I apologize to them. But to, but to work out your scenario, in the four years I was Speaker of the House, the average rate of increase was 2.9 percent a year including all the entitlements. That is the lowest rate of increase since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s. We did it by carefully setting priorities.
GINGRICH: Now, now just let me finish.
LAUER: Okay, go ahead.
GINGRICH: So, so we doubled, for example, investment in national health research at the National Institutes of Health while we were being very tough on other spending. I would start and I'd go through this budget pretty dramatically and I would eliminate a great deal of federal bureaucracy. I would reform unemployment compensation. I would reform workman's comp at the state level. I would have a very pro-jobs, very pro-savings, very pro-take-home pay policy. When we reformed welfare, 65 percent of people on welfare either went to work or went to school and we saved billions and billions of dollars. That's part of how we managed to balance the budget. Remember Matt...
LAUER: Would, would you make cuts in Social Security and Medicare?
GINGRICH: No, no.
This is what I find truly depressing about the prospect of a GOP takeover of Congress. Gingrich is supposed to be one of the wonkiest Republicans out there, and his solution to the yawning budget gap appears to consist of: welfare reform (didn't we already do this?), reforming unemployment compensation and workers' comp at the state level (!), and of course, "eliminat[ing] a great deal of federal bureaucracy."
But cuts to the entitlement programs that are threatening to drive us off a fiscal cliff? No, no, by God, no!