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Newt Gingrich’s Opponents Accused Him Of Wanting Medicare to “Wither On the Vine” Because That’s What He Said He Wanted

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Newt Gingrich’s Opponents Accused Him Of Wanting Medicare to “Wither On the Vine” Because That’s What He Said He Wanted"

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As others have noted, this bit of Rick Klein concern-trolling is a disaster. My own unique contribution to the genre comes from his retroactive concern-trolling about an incident from 15 years ago. Newt Gingrich delivered a speech to Blue Cross in 1996 when he said the following about Medicare:

It’s a centralized command bureaucracy. It’s everything we’re telling Boris Yeltsin to get rid of. Now we don’t get rid of it in round one because we don’t think that’s politically smart and we don’t think that’s the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine because we think people are going to voluntarily leave it. Voluntarily.

The plan was to create a system in which healthier seniors would have a financial incentive to drop out of Medicare, thus leading the program to wither on the vine and die. Since Medicare is popular, Democrats ran ads noting that his plan for Medicare was for it to wither on the vine and die. And what does Klein say about this:

To be fair, rhetoric over Medicare has been overheated for decades. Democrats during the Clinton years said Republicans wanted the program to “wither on the vine.”

Where did Democrats get this crazy idea from? What kind of dastardly, underhanded person slams his political opponents by quoting their exact words? This is all same as it ever was. Amazingly, even back in 1996 it was considered unfair to quote Gingrich accurately because to the DC press corps wanting to dismantle Medicare is always courageous and pointing out that people want to dismantle Medicare is always demagoguery.

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