On Thursday, Newt Gingrich reaffirmed previous comments that child labor laws are “truly stupid.” At a campaign event in Iowa, Gingrich explained that poor children need to learn how to earn money, rather than get it illegally.
“They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’-unless it’s illegal,” Gingrich said, according to multiple reports of the event.
A few weeks ago, Gingrich proposed a program in which janitors’ unions in schools would be thrown out and replaced with poor children. This, Gingrich said, would allow these children to learn how to work — something he says they do not learn in their communities. “Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich said Thursday.
While the presentation may be abrasive, Newt’s comments are pretty traditional conservative fare — especially for the man famous for passing welfare reform in the 1990s. Gingrich’s most famous legislative accomplishment added a work requirement to welfare and pushed thousands of poor people out of the welfare system. Gingrich has reinvented himself many times, but the idea that what the poor really need is a better work ethic, is still classic Newt.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.