Seems Like Old Times

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: In trying to elbow his way back to the forefront of politics, Newt Gingrich has levelled both barrels on the annual spring villain: the taxman. "We favor very low taxes," Gingrich intoned today at a press briefing. "I favor a zero tax on savings and job creation. We're for zero tax on death benefits." TIME's Karen Tumulty notes that after his success in raising the conservative flag during his Asia tour, "Gingrich needs to solidify his gains by becoming a true conservative again." In China it meant talking tough on human rights and drawing praise from Ralph Reed; in Washington, it means tax cuts and pleasing hard-line economic Republicans like Dick Armey and Steve Forbes. White House spokesman Mike McCurry called the proposal part of "a charm offensive under way with the far right," adding that Gingrich should raise the idea in budget negotiations between congressional and Administration leaders. But as Tumulty says: "This wasn't about the negotiations. It wasn't about the details. While Gingrich was gone, he was in real danger of being replaced for making too nice with the moderates. He's got to rebuild his image as a Republican leader." Having had his revolution engulfed once before by a triangulating Clinton, Gingrich seems to be trying to rally his troops all over again, this time on ground where sitting Presidents fear to tread. "We will vote on a tax cut even if President Clinton opposes it," he said. "We will give the President a chance to veto the tax cut . . . and be on the side of bigger government and higher spending and higher taxes." After all that talk about cooperation, Newt Gingrich is on the warpath again.