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Newt Gingrich, Defender of Medicare?

by Karl Stark  |  May 18, 2011

Gingrich speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Gingrich speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Just four days after announcing his presidential campaign, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) became the most prominent conservative to criticize the House Republican budget proposal that ends Medicare and Medicaid in order to finance $4.2 trillion in new tax breaks for profitable corporations and America’s wealthiest earners.

Sunday, May 15 on NBC’s Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked Gingrich about his thoughts on the budget proposal that passed in April with support from nearly every House Republican.

GINGRICH: I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.

Yes, this is the same Gingrich who, while serving as Speaker of the House in 1996, told the for-profit health insurance company Blue Cross/Blue Shield he hoped Medicare would “wither on the vine.”

House Republicans didn’t need to wait for Gingrich’s reproach to show them how out of touch their plan is. On break for recess just days after voting to end Medicare and Medicaid, House Republicans faced outraged constituents at town hall meetings across the country. It’s only been uphill from there — public opposition to their proposal has reached a whopping 70 percent.

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