Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says the politicians in Washington “seem paralyzed” over a dispute about the nation’s debt, at a time when “people want the country fixed.” 

Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House, describes what’s been happening in Washington as a “melt-down” and Gingrich suggests current House Republicans should pass a bill that would provide a one-month extension for the so-called “debt ceiling.”

“Buy another 30 days and begin to figure out the the kind of reforms I was describing, which you couldn’t do in two weeks,” Gingrich says.

Gingrich, for example, suggests massive layoffs in the federal government, by telling agency directors to lay off 10 percent of their staff or by closing down entire agencies. Gingrich says Republicans should insist on three principles in any deal.

“We don’t want to default, no tax increases and no phony agreement,” Gingrich says.

Gingrich accuses President Obama of being “fundamentally dishonest” in suggesting there’s no guarantee Social Security benefits would be paid in August if the impasse over the nation’s credit limit isn’t resolved. 

“I don’t think he can blackmail the country into tax increases and the Republican leaders need to understand that, that the country is deeply opposed to tax increases. It’s deeply opposed to giving Obama money without any spending cuts,” Gingrich says. “…It’s beginning to sink in that he both is very radical in his ideology and very manipulative in what he is doing.”

Gingrich says if he were House speaker today, he’d be passing a “slew” of bills aimed at job creation, because “Washington’s number one job should be the economy, not the deficit.” The Republican leader in the U.S. Senate has said Gingrich made the wrong deal on government spending in the mid-1990s with President Clinton, helping Clinton win reelection in 1996 — and Republicans in congress today want to avoid repeating that mistake.

Gingrich counters that Republicans were able to keep their majority in congress during that 1996 election for the first time in seven decades.

“The reelection of the House party for the first time since 1928 was a truly historic achievement,” Gingrich says. “And I would also say you’ve got to have a nominee who can debate head-to-head and carry our side of the story. I mean, if we nominate somebody who is not able to debate with Obama, we’ll lose the election.”

Gingrich is campaigning in Iowa this weekend. He spoke early this morning to 21 members of The Conservative Breakfast Club. It was a meeting arranged just yesterday by the Gingrich campaign, as the group normally meets on Tuesdays.