August 14th, 2013
02:21 PM ET
12 months ago

Gingrich: Republicans have 'zero' health care ideas

Boston (CNN) – Former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich reprimanded his fellow Republicans in unusually harsh terms Wednesday, blaming GOP members of Congress for developing "zero" alternatives to President Obama's health care reform law.

Gingrich, who was speaking at the opening session of the Republican National Committee's summer meeting, fielded a question about "Obamacare" and recalled that Republicans were able to block Bill Clinton's health care reform effort in 1994 because they had "a positive alternative approach" to health care.

But Republicans today have nothing comparable to offer, Gingrich told nearly the 200 state party chairs, operatives and activists gathered in Boston for the conference.

"I will bet you, for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks when your members of Congress are home, and you look them in the eye and you say, 'What is your positive replacement for Obamacare?' They will have zero answer," Gingrich said.

Gingrich blamed the problem on Republican culture that rewards obstruction and negativity instead of innovation and "being positive."

"We are caught up right now in a culture, and you see it every single day, where as long as we are negative and as long as we are vicious and as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don't have to learn anything," Gingrich said, acknowledging the "totally candid" nature of his remarks. "We have to do the homework."

"This is a very deep problem," said Gingrich, who was recently named one of the hosts of CNN's political talk show "Crossfire."

Gingrich's remarks were pegged to his forthcoming book "Breakout," which calls on Republicans to embrace new technologies and policies in an effort to become a party of the future.

President Obama also accused Republicans of having no health care plan during a White House press conference last week, a claim that was met with disdain by House Republican leaders who circulated a series of health care ideas to reporters after the president's remarks.

A number of prominent conservatives in the House and Senate are pushing to shut down the federal government in a bid to de-fund the president's health care law when Congress takes up a government spending measure in late September.

Asked if he agreed with Gingrich's arguments, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said "not completely." He pointed to a number of piecemeal health care proposals available on the web sites of House Republican leaders.

Priebus said he supports repealing or de-funding Obamacare, but pressed on whether he would support a government shutdown to accomplish those goals, Priebus said he did not want to debate tactics.


Filed under: Crossfire • Health care • Newt Gingrich • RNC
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. John

    Yeah, they did not have any better ideas when we let women vote, freed the slaves, allowed interaracial mariage, etc..... all of those are passed too. The time for an alternative idea was back when we debated healthcare, not after it is the law.

    August 14, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. Not Nasty, About Face!

    "I think that one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don't encourage you to be nasty. (1978)" Newt Gingrich. Now that's funny! Gingrich is the single most responsible person for creating the Republican culture that rewards obstruction and negativity instead of innovation and "being positive"!

    August 14, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  3. Elaine

    Gingrich, who I never liked or supported, is right but he wasting his time. It takes too much effort to change. You have the right dwelling on stupid John Oliver right wing jokes on commentator Chris Matthews on wrong predictions which will do nothing to win them elections. It's unfortunate because they keep making fools of themselves time and time again. If anything, I respect Chris Matthews more that the right has shown so much animosity towards him when they have nothing but negativity coming from Hannity and O'Reilly.

    August 14, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  4. Scott Cisney

    You know what? As a "liberal" (I hate labels!), I have to give Newt Gingrich credit...he told the truth. I mean we (all of us "liberals") know they have no alternative, but he said as much. Whatever personal flaws Newt has, he is a keen political observer and his party should listen to his comments and take them to heart. We need people on BOTH sides who will speak the truth. So, Newt, well said, well said!

    August 14, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. skytag

    @I'm NOT a liberal: "And the democrats plan will destroy the country."

    Nonsense. I'm not a fan of it, but if there are problems they'll be addressed. At least the Democrats tried to do something. Republicans had control of Congress for six years under Bush and didn't do squat.

    "Democrats forgot to mention in this bill that they're exempt from the taxes."

    I don't know what it means to "mention is a bill," but no one with half a brain believes Democrats are exempt from any part of the ACA.

    August 14, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  6. Toddmw

    I would have been willing to listen to any idea's that the republicans had with regard to healthcare but the one issue they had was that even people with pre-existing medical problems needed coverage too and they could not handle that! During the campaign last year Mitt said during one of his "If I'm president I'll do this for you speeches" that he would guarantee that those "with" health insurance who got a medical problem of some kind would be able to keep their insurance and would not be dropped His audience clapped loud like somehow that was a good thing that he could personally guarantee. But then a few days later someone asked him "Mr Romney how about americans affected by serious chroni health problems who do not have insurance? If they are without insurance and have a pre-existing condition how do they get in?" is reply was that he had spoken to some others and a serioud discussion would address that and that they would come up with some workable alternatives. During the campaign cycle alot of people asked him this same question and it was always met with the same answer! I lost all faith in republicans for any reason because you know their lying. Everyone who needs medical care and has a pre-existing condition wold be left completely out in the cold because republicans and big insurance would be in bed together and the same old problems would be just that. No change for the better. No reform or insurance overhall, no nothing. How republicans can look people in the eye and say yah we have a plan and we're working on it and we'll let ya know. Meanwhile the health of many many people with health problems hangs in the balance while their working on it. Is there is need for tweeking in Obama's healthcare plan? Sure. Is it perfect? Of course not! But it is far more then any republican with ever ever think about doing for the health of the american public.

    August 14, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  7. MNClownfactory

    The reason's why the Republicans have no health care idea is because Obama stole the republican idea from 1994. Gingrich won't tell you that part of the deal but the ACA or Obamacare adopted soooo many Republican ideas from the 1980's and 90's it is a conservative health care bill. The fact is historically the Democrats had been pushing for single payer for years and the GOP put together these ideas of making everyone pay, penializing businesses and individuals if they weren't on the plan etc......Obama just took those ideas. As a liberal I support the ACA for one reason and one reason only. Obama got the ball rolling period, it is nether perfect nor finished as a law but it is something our government couldnt get passed for 30 yrs of my voting life. Frankly, I think we should just do what Canada does have a basic preventative socialized health care system and a private health insurance for everything beyond the basic tenants.

    August 14, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  8. DrL

    We've examined plans for our city's 2014 ACA rates for a healthy 40 year old... ~$250/month for a basic health plan. So an individual can either pay $3000/yr for a basic plan OR a one time $95 penalty. What do you think a low to moderate income individual is going to choose?

    Here's plan from this moderate Republican. If you want universal care so bad, fine. However, EVERYBODY pays into it, whether the plan is an across the board 10% tax increase or increasing fines to $1-2000/person/yr. This means everybody pays at least 10% (with a capped dollar amount) in federal income taxes regardless of their income level or deductions and those dollars are set aside exclusively to cover universal healthcare. Democrats want a European style health care system without paying European levels of taxes. You can't have both.

    I, for one, as a high income earner don't mind paying more IF everyone pays a reasonable amount for their own healthcare AND the government learns how to spend my hard earned dollars wisely, neither of which concept seems to be of interest to the people in control.

    August 14, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  9. Rosslaw

    This is a realistic appraisal of the republican party's choice to offer nothing except to become one of this nation's greatest national security threats with nothing to recommend them except their hostage taking tactics. And the irony never stops-the republican's alternative 1994 health plan was the Heritage Foundation drafted version of "Obamacare".

    August 14, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Would somebody please let John Boehner know , he has been saying he has ideas for health care for the last two years. However he forgot what they were , too much 12 year old scotch and golf balls.

    It's so funny how honest politicians like Newt become when they leave politics .

    Newt the highest paid former politician lobbyist on K street

    August 14, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. TomGI

    Whether or not the Repubs have any plans isn't the primary goal. Their goal is to wreak the government first and then keep their heads down until the next election cycle so they can capture majority in the Senate and hold majority in the House. If they can seize control in both houses they will effectively cripple the Obama Administration and he will have a snowballs chance to pass anything for the rest of his second term. If they seize control, some have speculated the Democratic members might start to abstain from attending unless the measure it national security related opting instead to just watch sessions on close circuit TV.

    August 14, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    ...About health care of anything else. Unless they consider "NO" to be policy.

    August 14, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Name Uche Agonsi

    Repubs culture does not stop with obstructionism & negativities, the list is endless. These include economic sabotage like job exports, tax aversion by the rich & corporations, budgetary logjams, sequestrations, ....etc, even the recent ploy by insurance coys to erase the gains of ACA by increased premiums. There are also political manipulations to debase the POTUS, like 'Fishings' via Benghazi , IRS, & unnecessary pressure for war & negative diplomacy, etc. These are crimes against America because they hurt Americans more than any terrorism could ever dream. The Repubs need to re-appraise themselves by asking how they become so low to this extent, & how they will stop these ills they rained on American people.

    August 14, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. skarphace

    I'm NOT a liberal: "Democrats forgot to mention in this bill that they're exempt from the taxes."

    All Democrats are exempt from the taxes from the ACA? Huh?

    August 14, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. teaparty days are numbered

    even the Newt is seeing the right for what they are, to a few it surely is the end of America ( for those who can't stand change and can't adapt )

    August 14, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. skytag

    I looked at the proposals on the GOP website. I've spent several hundred hours studying health care issues over the past four years and they don't have squat. If they'd done their homework they'd know that.

    August 14, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. skarphace

    Gingrich: "Republicans were able to block Bill Clinton's health care reform effort in 1994 because they had "a positive alternative approach" to health care."

    Correct. However, you fail to mention that that "positive alternative approach" was not only your own plan, but was used as the basis for the ACA. The very foundation of Obamacare was put forward by Gingrich and championed by Romney. Back then, it was the Republican's idea, and they fault Obama for stealing the idea. So now, instead of trying to fix it, they demonize it and say that it is the worst plan in the world, all because a Democrat used the idea.

    That is why they can't come up with a new health plan; this plan is their plan.

    August 14, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. Ol' Yeller

    "Priebus said he did not want to debate tactics"

    When the republicants had Steele as their RNC Chariman, I thought, how could they do any worse than this?
    Now I know. Steele is a genius compared to this clown.

    August 14, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Just because GOP does'nt have anything better does'nt make Obamascare good.

    August 14, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Just shows the GOP is good for nothing except for failed repeal obamacare votes at 1.5 million apiece. 40 of them from GOP ficisl conservatives morons, say goodby to the house and senate in 2014 midterms GOP idiots!!!!!

    August 14, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. fayray11x

    zero ideas on just health care? think it's a lot more zeros on all constructive ideas and topics from the GOP

    August 14, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. JRDuck

    The GOP is not only out of Health Care Ideas but out of Sync with our whole country. If the Mainstream Straight Thinking rank in file people don't regain control their party there won't be a Republican Party any more. We cannot continue to send people to Washington who ignore the people who have elected them, they are only interested in their own Reelection. It seems that the words COOPERATION and BIPARTISANSHIP have disappeared from the scene.

    August 14, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. Anthony

    Individual mandate, the idea behind Romneycare in Massachusetts and Obamacare nationally, was the "positive alternative approach" in 1994. Republicans, stand up for your ideas. Just because Obama adopted your ideas, you don't have to disown them.

    August 14, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. Michael

    This fact has been known to both sides for years. Obstruct without any well thought out alternative. Just do anything and everything to bring government to a halt. I am NOT a democrat, nor am I republican ... I've been so tired of the game being played by Congress over the past 4+ years without a plan. If Congress really wanted to become relevant again, they'd not only start working together but would also show the American people that they're not above the rest of us by removing the exemptions on having to play by the same rules as the rest of us. YOU WORK FOR US !! It's about time you ALL finally get that through your thick skulls.

    August 14, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. I'm NOT a liberal

    On Wednesday, the New York Times ran a blistering investigative report revealing the Clinton Foundation as a nonprofit rife with crony capitalist conflicts of interest and multi-million dollar deficits despite raking in at least $492 million from 1997 to 2007.

    In 2007 and 2008, the Clinton Foundation, which is soon to be renamed the “Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation,” ran a $40 million deficit. Last year, it ran a deficit of over $8 million despite the Foundation and two subsidiaries generating $214 million in revenues.

    August 14, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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