Newt Gingrich joined The View live from Rome on Thursday morning where he has been quarantined for weeks with his wife, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Calista Gingrich. And yet despite living in the horror that could be America’s near future, the former Republican Speaker of the House had only mild criticism for the way President Donald Trump has handled the coronavirus crisis.
Gingrich acknowledged that the president and his task force should probably be “social distancing” during their daily press briefings. And he threw some cold water on Trump’s promise to get the economy up and running again by Easter. “I think the president's direction is right, but probably the speed won’t happen as fast as he wants it to,” he said diplomatically.
But the most contentious part of the interview came when co-host Sunny Hostin asked Gingrich to weigh in on the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate Wednesday night.
“Several Republican senators are worried unemployment benefits will be so enticing that people will stop working,” Hostin said. “Senator Graham even implied that the benefits would incentivize well-trained nurses to stay home and collect a check.”
She was citing a joint statement from Senators Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, and Tim Scott that read, “If the federal government accidentally incentivizes layoffs, we risk life-threatening shortages in sectors where doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are trying to care for the sick, and where growers and grocers, truckers and cooks are trying to get food to families’ tables.”
“Do you share their concern?” Hostin asked.
“Sure, as a practical matter you have to,” Gingrich replied. “As I understand it, there's one part of this where you can actually make more money not working. That’s not a very good incentive.”
Of course, the unemployment relief in the stimulus package would only benefit workers who are laid off due to the economic crisis—not doctors and nurses who are needed more than ever in this moment.
As he continued talking, Whoopi Goldberg could be heard off-screen saying, “That’s so disrespectful!” She added later, “Lindsey Graham should be ashamed of himself.”
“It just seems to me the suggestion that nurses who are on the front line are not going to work and sacrifice the way that they have because they're going to be making a few hundred dollars more is ludicrous,” Hostin told Gingrich, “but that's just my opinion.”
“It's insulting! It's insulting!” Goldberg added. She repeated, “Lindsey Graham should be ashamed of himself to say something like that in the middle of all of this.”