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The Last Word
updated 12/11/2012 12:17:55 AM ET 2012-12-11T05:17:55

With his gospel that "tax increases kill jobs," Gingrich has had the most lasting and powerful effect on our politics in the last 30 years, says MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell.

Lawrence O’Donnell says Newt Gingrich is the politician who “had the most important and lasting influence on our politics and our governing”–more, even, “than any of the Presidents he served under.” (But MSNBC’s O’Donnell is still waiting for an apology from former House Speaker and Republican presidential candidate Gingrich.)

In the last 30 years, Newt Gingrich laid out a philosophy, “a near religious belief” that today’s Republican party still adheres to: the mantra that was first introduced back in 1993 under Bill Clinton’s presidency. O’Donnell notes that Gingrich needed a selling point to garner Republican support to oppose any tax increases.

“When Bill Clinton pushed for the tax increase that he got in 1993, Newt Gingrich said ‘the tax increase will kill jobs.’ Newt was opposed to alltax increases, but he knew he couldn’t simply say, ‘I’m opposed to all tax increases.’ He had to come up with a reason–a reason that he could sell, at least to other Republicans. ‘The tax increase will kill jobs.’ Newt Gingrich, who was not then the leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives, controlled every Republican vote and every Republican vote in the Senate on Bill Clinton’s deficit reduction bill–and because it cut spending, but raised taxes, every Republican in the House and the Senate voted against it.”

O’Donnell points out that since then,

“Every Republican you have ever heard opposing tax increases in the last 20 years has used words dictated to them by Newt Gingrich. Not one Republican is left who uses the Reagan concept of keep taxes as low as possible but raise them as little as possible when necessary. There is not one Republican left in Congress who is a Reaganite on taxes. All of them are Gingrichites.”

As O’Donnell pointed out to Newt Gingrich on Sunday’s Meet the Press, Gingrich also said in 1993 when he opposed the Clinton tax increase: “The tax increase will kill jobs and lead to a recession, and the recession will force people off of work and onto unemployment and will actually increase the deficit.” By uttering this permanent talking point, Gingrich’s anti-tax legacy is more powerful than anything the presidents he served under–Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton–left behind.

O’Donnell also believes that House Speaker John Boehner is subject to this Gingrich-ism. On Friday, Boehner commented on the tax increase on the top income tax brackets that President Obama has asked for: “I oppose tax rate increases because tax rate increases cost American jobs.” Boehner seemingly feels trapped by Gingrich’s beliefs: he or anyone in the House Republican leadership has never voted for a tax increase in his life. Because there was no lasting Reagan, Bush or Clinton tax principle that lived beyond its presidencies, the first commandment of Republicanism emerged which stated that “all tax increases must be opposed and must be condemned as job killers.”

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