White House hopeful Newt Gingrich called the House Republican plan for Medicare “right-wing social engineering,” injecting a discordant GOP voice into the party’s efforts to reshape both entitlements and the broader budget debate.
In the same interview on Sunday, Mr. Gingrich backed a requirement that all Americans buy health insurance, complicating a Republican line of attack on President Barack Obama’s health law.
The former House speaker’s decision to stick with his previous support for an individual mandate comes days after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney defended the health revamp he championed as governor, which includes a mandate.
The moves suggest the Republican primary contest, which will include both men, could feature a robust debate on health care, with GOP candidates challenging the Democratic law while defending their own variations.
Newt Gingrich’s appearance on “Meet the Press” today could leave some wondering which party’s nomination he is running for. The former speaker had some harsh words for Paul Ryan’s (and by extension, nearly every House Republican’s) plan to reform Medicare, calling it “radical.”
“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” he said when asked about Ryan’s plan to transition to a “premium support” model for Medicare. “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”
As far as an alternative, Gingrich trotted out the same appeal employed by Obama/Reid/Pelosi — for a “national conversation” on how to “improve” Medicare, and promised to eliminate ‘waste, fraud and abuse,’ etc.
For Ms. Clinton, standing side by side with her husband’s onetime nemesis gives her the chance to burnish her credentials among the moderates she has been courting during her time in the Senate.
But in comments this week, she portrayed the rapprochement as one born of shared policy interests, not calculated politics.
“I know it’s a bit of an odd-fellow, or odd-woman, mix,” she said. “But the speaker and I have been talking about health care and national security now for several years, and I find that he and I have a lot in common in the way we see the problem.”
For his part, Mr. Gingrich, who helped lead the impeachment fight against President Bill Clinton, called Mrs. Clinton “very practical” and “very smart and very hard working,” adding, “I have been very struck working with her.”
Maybe he is actually running to win the Democrat nomination this time.