Gingrich pitches 'growth and opportunity' in NH

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich is set to introduce a "growth and innovation" plan that would offer younger workers an alternative to Social Security.

The former House speaker, whose political comeback has seen his political fortunes improving in recent weeks, planned to tell students at St. Anselm College Monday that he would allow some members of the U.S. workforce to choose private retirement accounts and end the expectations that Social Security will be a safety net for older workers.

Gingrich's plan would also let the markets determine retirees' income.

"Growth and innovation means securing and strengthening Social Security by empowering Americans with the option to invest in personal savings accounts," Gingrich said in remarks prepared for delivery. "This gives Americans ownership over their retirement and the opportunity to unleash the power of the market to enjoy prosperous retirements beyond their most optimistic expectations, while also wiping out all future liabilities in the Social Security system."

Gingrich said his plan would reduce the inequality between workers who paid into Social Security as their sole retirement account and higher income workers who benefit from private funds. Gingrich aides said their plan would make retirees' more secure and level the field among all workers.

President George W. Bush offered some similar proposals for Social Security soon after winning re-election in 2004, but ran into stiff resistance from Democrats and from some within his own party about proposing changes to the popular program.

Gingrich, who left office in 1999 under a cloud of ethics violations, has rehabilitated his political image as a one-man think-tank during the last decade. Recently, Gingrich has seen his standing in the polls rise as the GOP electorate has shifted from one candidate to another.

Hoping to capture Republicans' imaginations again, Gingrich was set to unveil his proposals to students Monday afternoon in a state that could help him build momentum toward the nomination.

Although still trailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in most polls, Gingrich has attracted grassroots leaders to his campaign as he looks to pitch himself as the leading alternative to Romney. As the fickle GOP electorate has moved from one candidate to another — while Romney has remained steady in the polls — Gingrich is hoping his late rise puts him in a strong position with just six weeks to go until the first of the nominating contests take place in Iowa.

Gingrich also planned to again call for returning welfare programs to the states, as well as offering states alternatives to Medicare and introducing private options.

"Growth and innovation means rejecting the centralized control and rationing of Obamacare and creating a broad Patient Power system," Gingrich said. "When patients are empowered and information is transparent, the cost of healthcare will go down for all, while the quality will go up."

However, Gingrich's plan would allow seniors in Medicare now to stay, but others would be eligible for subsidies toward traditional insurance plans.

"Unleashing competition will dramatically increase options for American seniors, while also lowering costs," he said.

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