FORT DODGE, Iowa – Newt Gingrich is generously praising a new bipartisan proposal to tackle the rising cost of Medicare developed by Rep. Paul Ryan –- the same Republican whom Gingrich accused earlier this year of “right-wing social engineering” in response to Ryan’s budget plan.
Gingrich encountered substantial criticism after his comments on the Ryan budget, and eventually walked them back, though Mitt Romney has continued to bash Gingrich for his comments. His positive response to the Medicare plan provides him with political cover for any conservatives who haven't forgotten his earlier remarks.
The proposal from Ryan and Senate Finance Committee member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would have private insurance companies competing directly with Medicare, giving seniors their choice of plans. If the proposal fails to hold Medicare spending to a very tight budget target, Congress would vote on where to cut payments – from doctors, hospitals, or drug companies. That’s the same menu of options Congress currently faces.
“I was delighted this morning to see that Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and GOP Congressman Paul Ryan have come together to try to develop a bipartisan approach to saving Medicare in a way that actually increases choices and increases the opportunity for younger people to have a stable system that’s both affordable and gives them a range of choices,” Gingrich said.
He echoed those comments in an interview with the Des Moines Register in which he said he hopes the plan is a way of “breaking up the logjam.”
On another subject, Gingrich blasted Attorney General Eric Holder for announcing this week that the Justice Department would be aggressive in reviewing new voting laws that civil-rights advocates say will dampen minority participation in next year’s elections.
“I’m very confused on Attorney General Holder on a couple of grounds,” Gingrich said. “I think having some requirement that you be able to identify that you are who you say you are before you vote is a totally reasonable thing.… I think if you look up the places that have the most voter theft and the most voter fraud, I don’t see any justification for saying we shouldn’t know for sure that you are an American citizen and that you are legally alive and that you’re supposed to be allowed to vote. And I think voter fraud in some constituencies is a very big problem.”