The Washington Times - May 16, 2011, 12:55PM

Wow, that was fast. Former Republican Speaker of the House and now GOP primary presidential candidate Newt Gingrich found himself in hot water with Republicans and conservatives, when the Georgia Republican criticized Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. Mr. Gingrich previously claimed he supported Mr. Ryan’s ideas for a budget, but found himself cleaning up a political mess he made for himself on Monday. In the meantime, Mr. Ryan could only say on a Monday radio show about Mr. Gingrich, “With allies like that, who needs the left?”


Gingrich criticizes Ryan’s budget as “social engineering” on Sunday

MR. GREGORY:What about entitlements? The Medicare trust fund, in stories that have come out over the weekend, is now going to be depleted by 2024 , five years earlier than predicted. Do you think that 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…


MR. GREGORY:…some premium support and — so that they can go out and buy private insurance ?

REP. 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. 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, we 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 ’s agreed to help solve it. You can’t get anybody in this town to look at it. That’s, that’s almost $1 trillion over a decade. So there are things you can do to improve Medicare .

MR. GREGORY:But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, which is completely changing Medicare .

REP. GINGRICH:I, I think that, I think, I think that that is too big a jump. I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon the — I don’t want to — I’m against Obamacare , which is imposing radical change , and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change .


Gingrich attempts to explain his criticism of the Ryan budget plan

Mr. Gingrich told radio host Mike Gallagher, he was taken out of context and actually did support Paul Ryan’s budget.

Paul Ryan responds to Gingrich

Congressman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, joined the Laura Ingraham show on Monday and told fill-in host Raymond Royos his thoughts on Mr. Gingrich’s criticism of the Ryan budget plan, “With allies like that, who needs the left?” He added, “What’s happening is, Medicare is going broke and we’re saying, ‘if we put a plan like this in place, you don’t have to change the benefits for anybody who is 55 and above and that’s hardly radical. What’s radical is the president’s new law.” 

Conservative talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh disagreed with Mr. Gingrich as well on Monday, saying: “We’re not trying to do social engineering, we’re trying to fix the federal government.” 

Known for his professorial style on the stump, Mr. Gingrich may very well find Mr. Ryan competition for the mantle of the smartest guy in the room. While Paul Ryan has given no hints about running for the White House in 2012, though some would like him to, one must wonder if Newt Gingrich feels somehow threatened by a fresh young face from Wisconsin who is leading the GOP in fiscal matters in a new House Republican majority.