House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s decision to embrace the individual insurance mandate – a key part of the Obamacare health plan – and his charge that GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan is radical “right wing social engineering" has cut him off “from the vast majority of the Republican Party,” according to MSNBC political analyst and longtime conservative icon Patrick J. Buchanan.
Buchanan, who served as a White House adviser to presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, added: “When you come out for the individual mandate … you must be writing off today 75 percent of the Republican Party, which has as a major issue overturning that in the Supreme Court.”
Speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, Buchanan added that said that President Barack Obama and Democrats are the key beneficiaries of Gingrich’s barrage that erupted Sunday during his interview on “Meet the Press.”
“I can’t think of a prominent Republican nationally who is coming out for a national individual mandate. That’s the Obama position,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan was also mystified by Gingrich’s strident critique of Ryan’s plan on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
“What Newt is doing is what the left wing of the Democratic Party is doing up there in that District 26 race in New York,” Buchanan said, “which is trashing Paul Ryan as a radical. It’s not simply saying, ‘Ryan’s got a courageous plan, I’m taking a look at it.’ It’s trashing it.
“This is the position of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama right now politically that they’re going to take into the campaign of 2012, hammering Ryan as a radical — and Newt Gingrich has just dealt them aces,” Buchanan said.
Gingrich said on Meet the Press on Sunday that he stood by comments he made as early as 1993 that government should require all citizens to purchase insurance or a bond to cover health emergencies. Gingrich also favors government subsidies and vouchers for people who can’t afford to purchase their own insurance.
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When NBC host David Gregory shot back: “That is the individual mandate, isn’t it?” Gingrich responded, “It’s a variation of it.”
Since his appearance Gingrich has qualified his statement by saying he does not support a federal mandate and supports the full repeal of Obamacare.
But it remains unclear how Gingrich would require every citizen to have health insurance if it is not enforced by the federal government, and a statewide system sounds eerily like Romneycare, the statewide system instituted in Massachusetts by Gov. Mitt Romney.
That Gingrich, the former Georgia congressman who led efforts to force President Bill Clinton to balance the budget after the Republican revolution of 1994, would come out in favor of a form of the individual mandate that GOP leaders have almost universally opposed in recent years caught several political analysts by surprise.
Said Buchanan: “He has really cut himself off not only from the tea party but from the vast majority of the Republican Party.
“When you talk about that individual mandate, [state Attorney General] Ken Cuccinelli down in Virginia is challenging it before the Supreme Court and the whole party … Secondly … he not only distanced himself from Ryan’s plan … but [Gingrich] repudiated it almost entirely. Basically, he is out on the left wing of the Republican Party on I think the most crucial economic issue, besides the economy itself.”
Time magazine political guru Mark Halperin called Gingrich’s repudiation of Ryan and his endorsement of the individual mandate “two pretty out there positions.”
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who was part of the 1994 GOP-controlled House of Representatives that worked with Gingrich and former President Clinton to balance the budget said: “I’ve got to say this confirms my previous concern about Newt Gingrich over the past 15 years, that rhetorically, he’s far, far right. But when push comes to shove, he’s in the mushy middle.
“I mean he didn’t get run out of Washington by us in ’98 because … he was a fire breather. He got run out of Washington because he kept cutting deals with Democrats, and then attacked us for being too conservative fiscally.”
Scarborough said Gingrich’s controversial remarks Sunday appeared to reflect views Gingrich espoused earlier in his career.
“It was Newt in 1974 and 1976, when he ran as a Rockefeller Republican,” he said.
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