The Corner

Gingrich on Medicare Part D, Individual Mandate

Some excerpts from Newt Gingrich’s meeting with New Hampshire’s Union-Leader[all emphasis mine]: 


On his support of Medicare Part D:

It created health savings account and it created Medicare Advantage. … First of all, I think to have Medicare program that says we’ll give you open heart surgery, but not Lipitor, is very destructive. You have to modernize the system. I just offered you somewhere between 70 and 120 billion dollars by not paying the crooks, okay? Again, I’m pretty cheerful about debating balancing the budget. I’m the only guy you’ve interviewed who’s done it for four straight years …  in the case of health care … I’ve been very clear on my positions.  I wrote a book called Saving Lives and Saving Money, making the argument that health is a moral issue. First you save the life, then you save the money. I also think you could take probably 40 percent out of the cost of health care.

Asked when he had changed his views on the individual health-care mandate at the federal level:

I never focused much on it on the federal level. I talked about it at the Center [for Health Transformations] at the state level. …  [On why he rejected mandates] Because what it does it politicizes what you mean by health care. Once you get into mandates, you start getting into is this in or is that in, and what’s required and you rapidly politicize the system and take it away from the doctor-patient relationship.

Why he now thinks the federal health-care mandate is unconstitutional:

This again, is something where Heritage also found themselves as you worked through it. At the time it was designed to block Hillarycare. The more you thought about it, the more you realized a Congress which can compel you to do something like that can compel you to do anything. What’s the limit to Congress’ power to dictate your life?

Asked if the fact that he had changed some positions over the years meant that he was a flip-flopper, as many accuse Mitt Romney of being:

No, I don’t think very much so. My career American Conservative Union rating is 90 percent. I think that’s relatively high. My career record of balancing the budget is … the only person to have to done it in your lifetime. My career position on strong national security goes back to 1979. My record on wanting to cut taxes … goes back to mid-70s. I’d say two things. One is sometimes things change. I voted for the Department of Education in 1979. I wouldn’t vote for it today. … On other things I’ve been relatively stable.  A couple of things, I just made a mistake. I’ve been pretty cheerful about saying that the ad with Pelosi is probably the dumbest thing I’ve done in last four or five years because (a) she’s so radioactive that being a Republican sitting next to her on a couch was just literally – you can’t explain it. I mean, it’s just dumb. Second, and I’m probably not going to meet your standards, but I don’t know about climate change. There are a lot of pretty reputable scientists who say it’s real. There are a number of pretty reputable scientists who say it’s not real.

On ethanol and payments he had received from groups over the years:

There is not a single position I’ve taken that involves being paid. I’m happy if people who like my positions want to come pay me. There are no cases I know of where I said please, don’t pay me. But in fact, these are all positions I’ve had over a long public career.  And so, in that sense, when the ethanol guys came in and said, ‘Look, we’re concerned, would you give us advice?’, I said sure.

On whether he anticipated the housing bubble:

It wasn’t obvious until 2007… Initially, it wasn’t Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Initially, it was things like Countrywide, but the minute you started getting people who could buy houses with no credit, no money down, I mean, these things are insane. And I was cheerfully saying that in my public speeches. 

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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