Newt Gingrich appeared on Meet the Press this morning and said two things that won’t exactly endear him to the Tea Party crowd or the reform minded movement sweeping the GOP.First, he endorsed the individual mandate and said he would not bash Mitt Romney over the individual mandate.Second, he went after Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare. Your mileage may vary on Ryan’s plan, but he is both offering up one and using the free market, individual choice approach favored by conservatives.Newt was not happy with the approach.Gingrich is already going to have to overcome the apprehensiveness of evangelicals and women in the primary. To also have to overcome the free marketers’ concerns may prove problematic.I’m still struggling to figure out what Newt’s natural constituency is. He seems to want to be the ideas guy, but that really amounts to being a conservative technocrat. If Daniels enters and Mitt is there too, it is a crowded field for the technocrats to fight over.Time will tell. The transcript of the related remarks is below the fold.Endorsing individual mandate:
GINGRICH: well, i agree that all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care. and i think there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. i have said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond, or in some way, you indicate you’re going to be held accountable.
GREGORY: but that is the individual mandate, is it not?
GINGRICH: it’s a variation on it.
GREGORY: so you won’t use that issue against Mitt Romney?
Calls Ryan plan “right wing social engineering”:
GREGORY: what about entitle snaents the trust fund is going to be depleted by 2024, five years earlier than predicted. do you think republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors some premium support so that they can go out and buy private insurance?
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 free society to operate. i think we need a national conversation to get to a better medicare system with more choices for seniors, but there are specific things you can do. at the center for health transformation, which i helped found, which published a book called “stop paying the crooks.” we thought that was a clear enough, simple enough idea, even for washington. we, between medicare and medicaid, we pay between $70 billion and $120 billion a year to crooks. and ibm has agreed to help solve it, american express has agreed to help solve it, visa has agreed to help solve it. you can’t get anybody in this town to look at it. that’s almost a trillion dollars over a decade. so, there are things you can do to improve medicare —
GREGORY: but not what paul ryan is suggesting, completely change medicare?
GINGRICH: i think that is too big a jump. i think you want to have a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon the — i’m against obama care, which is imposing radical change, and i would be against a conservative imposing radical change.