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Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich wants to put underprivileged pre-teen American kids to work as school janitors to help pull them out of poverty.

Never one to mince words (or go a day without ruffling feathers), Newt’s issue has never been a lack of brains, but that he comes across as … mean.

Speaking at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government last week, Gingrich outlined, informally, his proposal to ease child labor laws in the U.S.

Elizabeth Warren for President
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“These schools should get rid of unionized janitors,” he said. “Have one master janitor, pay local students to take care of the school instead.”

“The kids would actually do work; they’d have extra cash; they’d have pride in the schools,” he added. “They’d begin the process of rising.”

Education is seen as the key to upward mobility, as well as hard work, yet the budget cuts championed by some politicians make that harder.

It’s difficult to say if he’s trying to make a point about self-reliance, or eschewing union employees in favor of exploiting the working poor.

With Gingrich, it’s hard to tell. But it’s never uninteresting.