“‘It’s absolutely moved the needle in the political landscape,’ said Rep. Steve Israel (D., N.Y.), who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, noting that all but four House Republicans voted for Mr. Ryan’s plan last month.
“‘Whenever you get a far-right Republican like Newt Gingrich saying House Republicans are too far to the right, we will remind people of that.’ The DCCC, which coordinates the Democratic House races, said Monday it is launching automated phone calls in 20 districts saying that people between 44 and 54 have already paid into Medicare for years and wouldn’t get all the benefits they deserve under Mr. Ryan’s plan.
“The Gingrich broadside also could undercut the GOP bargaining position in debt-cutting talks being led by Vice President Joseph Biden. The government hit its debt limit of $14.29 trillion Monday, and lawmakers and the administration are working to craft a deficit-cutting plan that would be linked to an increase in the legal borrowing limit.
“Republicans say Mr. Ryan’s Medicare plan should be part of those talks, though earlier this month they seemed to back away from that insistence before reaffirming it. A prominent Republican like Mr. Gingrich slamming the plan could hurt that position.”
“In an interview with us yesterday, Mr. Gingrich conceded that he ‘probably used too strong language’ on TV but that ‘I have thought about this for a long time and I am very, very worried.’ He explained that he was trying to articulate ‘a political strategy for long-term, sustainable change’ and that Mr. Ryan ought to have focused on ‘incentives rather than punishments’ and ‘the right to choose versus being forced to choose.’ He added that ‘I think it would be politically catastrophic to pass the bill in its current form’ at a moment when conservatives have an opportunity ‘to break the left for the first time since 1932.’
“The irony is that Mr. Gingrich’s own history of political failure on health care has made Mr. Ryan’s proposals all the more necessary…
“Yet now he is trashing Mr. Ryan for thinking far more deeply about health care, and in a far more principled fashion, than Mr. Gingrich ever has. The episode reveals the Georgian’s weakness as a candidate, and especially as a potential President—to wit, his odd combination of partisan, divisive rhetoric and poll-driven policy timidity.
“In his recent campaign book, ‘To Save America,’ he describes Mr. Obama as bent on leading a ‘secular–socialist machine’ that ‘represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.’ Mr. Ryan speaks softly but proposes policies commensurate with America’s problems. Mr. Gingrich speaks loudly but shrinks from hard choices. Who’s the ‘radical’ and who’s the real leader?”
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