Nicholas Thompson| New Yorker Culture Desk | January 6, 2012
In his blog, “Republicans vs. Science: Ranking the Candidates,” Thompson evaluates the science and technology policies of the Republican candidates. Newt Gingrich had the highest ranking – even though, as Speaker, he abolished the Office of Technology Assessment, “a move reminiscent of Nixon abolishing the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy,” according to Thompson.
Bruce Bartlett also points out Gingrich’s inconsistencies in his N.Y. Times Economix blog, “Gingrich and the Destruction of Congressional Expertise.” He said that professional Congressional staff members – especially those with technical expertise – had been an obstacle to Mr. Gingrich’s “grandiose schemes.” “To remove this obstacle, Mr. Gingrich did everything in his power to dismantle Congressional institutions that employed people with the knowledge, training and experience to know a harebrained idea when they saw it,” according to Bartlett.
“In addition to decimating committee budgets,” Bartlett added, “he also abolished two really useful Congressional agencies, the Office of Technology Assessment and the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. The former brought high-level scientific expertise to bear on legislative issues and the latter gave state and local governments an important voice in Congressional deliberations.”
Lorelei Kelly, in her Huffington Post article, “Dumb By Design: Gingrich’s Lobotomy of Congress and Today’s Dysfunction,” mentions Gingrich’s Contract for America, which “wiped out the shared system of expert knowledge and analysis inside Congress. The bill made Congress dumb — on purpose. ”
The resulting brainpower losses included the Office of Technology Assessment, the bipartisan Democratic Study Group, the Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus, and shared committee staffs.
Similar sentiments were echoed in:
Government Executive’s Fed Blog, “ Defunct Agency Still Missed,” by Charles S. Clark;
the Washington Post’s Federal Eye, “When Congress wiped an agency off the map,” by Ed O’Keefe;
“Closing a federal agency and making Congress dumber — thank Newt Gingrich” posted in Under the Mountain Bunker; and
Econbrowser, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the beancounters,” by Menzie Chinn.