Former Congresswoman: Gingrich lobbied for Medicare expansion

Among my frequent criticisms of Newt Gingrich was his support of Medicare Part D, which was passed in 2003 with the support of President George W. Bush. Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, is expansion of an already troubled government-run insurance program that has been estimated to add anywhere between $7 trillion to $9.4 trillion in unfunded liabilties.

Keep in mind that Medicare and Social Security together represent some $61 trillion in unfunded liabilties. So the last thing we should be doing is adding to that. Yet, that’s exactly what Newt Gingrich did when the bill was before the House, according to former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO):

Former Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, now a director at the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said Gingrich called her at the height of the 2003 debate urging her to vote for the bill.

“Newt called me to vote yes,” Musgrave told CNN by phone on Wednesday.

“He asked for a yes vote on a Medicare prescription drug benefit,” she said. “Dick Armey” – former House Majority Leader – “called me and wanted a no. But I had already made up my mind to vote not to expand an entitlement that we were going to have to pay for down the road.”

Musgrave was one of 19 House Republicans who voted against the plan, which passed 220-215.

Two more Republicans who served in Congress at the time, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, told the Des Moines Register this week that Gingrich lobbied them to vote in favor of the Medicare provision.

“He told us, ‘If you can’t pass this bill, you don’t deserve to govern as Republicans,’ ” Flake told the paper. “If that’s not lobbying, I don’t know what is.”

Politico also reported earlier this month that Gingrich was instrumental in getting House Republicans to support the bill.

Like I said, this isn’t a new revelation. Back in November 2003, Time covered Gingrich’s involvement in pushing the new entitlement through Congress:

Newt Gingrich is back. The fiery architect of the Republicans’ Contract with America, who was forced to resign as House Speaker in 1999 after his attacks on Bill Clinton cost the G.O.P. big losses in the midterm elections, has been steadily increasing his backstage role in national politics. Nowhere was his presence more on display than in the Medicare-reform bill Congress passed last week. Beginning a year ago, Gingrich gave PowerPoint briefings to top Republican officials like Vice President Dick Cheney, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate majority leader Bill Frist on market reforms for Medicare. Late in October, Gingrich worked with AARP to circulate a compromise proposal on Capitol Hill, much like the one eventually passed, for Medicare to compete with private insurance plans in a test program. Gingrich has his own health-care think tank and has advised AARP on technological innovations, such as websites for seniors to shop for the cheapest drugs as they can do for airline tickets.

So exactly who was Gingrich working for when he was helping to push the bill through Congress? Good question. He certainly wasn’t working for taxpayers. And as recently as March of this year, Gingrich says he doesn’t regret expanding the program, despite the fact that it wasn’t paid for and represents a long-term threat to the fiscal health of the country.

With all the posturing about ObamaCare, how is this any different from what Obama did? Of course, ObamaCare was the wrong reaction to the nation’s health care problems. But my point is if Gingrich is a conservative, what’s is a liberal?

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