August 14th, 2013
02:21 PM ET
5 years 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. Sniffit

    "As usual the poorly, misguided Mr. Gingrich don't have a clue what he is talking about. There is a comprehensive Health Care Bill, Empowering Patients First Act (H.R. 2300) , which has been introduced by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, a physician."

    That bill isn't a comprehensive health care reform package. It's a laundry list of wish-think from the GOP/Teatrolls like cutting more taxes and allowing people to "opt out" of Medicare, i.e., trying to introduce as much adverse selection in to Medicare as possible in order to destroy it. It's nothing more than a giant list of ideological feces.

    August 14, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. I'm NOT a liberal

    Poor democrats STILL don't even know what they passed in the health care bill/sham.

    I'm sure if they could they'd exempt ONLY democrats from it.

    August 14, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  3. somebody


    If it's such a great health care system, then why did Congress beg to not be mandated to use it?


    "If it's such a great health care system, then why did Congress beg to not be mandated to use it? "

    Because the US congress and federal employees should be treated just like every other employee of a large organization under the ACA: large organizations and corporations are mandated to provide health insurance for their employees under the ACA, and the federal government is nothing more than a large organization. Those that don't do it have to pay fines. Forcing the US gov't to provide health insurance to its employees is, in fact, treating it just like every other organization out there who will be charged with doing likewise. Grow up.

    In case Sniffit's explanation was too complicated, this might help.
    1. Congress did not beg to be exempt.
    2. Congress is not exempt.
    3. The people in Congress are federal employees. The federal Government already provides health insurance to it's employees so they meet the requirements of the law. BTW, they choose from a set of private health insurance plans just like employees of any other large employer.

    August 14, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  4. Jackie Treehorn

    Something like Obamacare WAS the Republican alternative to the single-payer system originally envisaged by liberals. But it was just a red herring used to stall any real progress. Once it was actually embraced by Democrats, Republicans turned on it as if it were evil incarnate. Same thing happened with cap-and-trade.

    They have no intention of implementing ANY health care reform. Corporate money flows from the status quo, and maintaining the status quo is the Republican platform.

    August 14, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  5. Dumbas[R]ocks

    sniffit - I think your description of the so-called [R] health care bill is an accurate lable for just about everything the House [R]s have put forward: "a giant list of ideological feces".

    That America is dumb enough to put up with this rightwing cabal in the House is a shame on our country.

    August 14, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  6. Dave in Arizona

    ""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.""

    Holy crap.

    I've been saying that for the past couple years. Not out of hostility or hatred; out of warning. The GOP is never going to survive, walking the road it's walking right now. I honestly hoped that the GOP would return to true conservatism and wash away the Bush legacy in 2009/2010, but instead the power vacuum allowed the Tea Party to come in and pull the whole organization to the far right.

    'm a liberal but I understand that America needs voices represented as well as they can be. And right now conservatism isn't. Many who claim to be conservative don't even understand what it means anymore. Conservatives need to either take back the GOP, or let it go to the radicals and reform a new one. Yeah, that might mean a split vote and a few lost elections, but long term viability demands short term sacrifice.

    Anyhow. Gingrich's stock just went up a few points. This truth needs to be told a lot more.

    August 14, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Go to any health insurance plan website, and they'll have loads of info about implementing Obamacare. Anyone saying they are in the dark needs to do a little research instead of listening to the rightwing, fear-mongering talking twits.

    August 14, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  8. ak_steve

    I think a more suitable headline for this article is The GOP has ZERO IDEAS.

    August 14, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  9. Andrew

    I wouldn't be too hard on your fellow Republicans Newt. Technically, every-man-woman-and-child-for-themselves is an idea. Just a really bad one.

    August 14, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  10. DemFromSC

    This is the first intelligent statement I've heard Gingrich make in many years.

    August 14, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. Jeb

    The party of NO needs to offer real solutions to the problems that we face as a country. Just opposing everything Obama puts forward is not a solution to anything.

    August 14, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  12. Jeb

    "Our number one political goal is to make Obama a one term President." Mitch McConnell

    Now that Republicans have failed miserably with that strategy, when do you think they'll get around to putting the needs of the American people somewhere on their list of priorities?

    August 14, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. Jeb

    Gingrich is, once again, trying to reinvent himself after he contributed so much to the negative, obstructionist, hyper partisan rhetoric of his party.

    August 14, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. CC

    It would be great if the Republicans would come to the table and bargain so the country can move FORWARD. Obama has done as much as can be expected with no real ideas or help coming from the opposition. The Democrats do not need to rest on their laurels of passing the ACA (Obamacare), there is more work left to be done to get this new law on a solid foundation for the country's future.

    August 14, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  15. Bubba

    The GOP ran out of ideas in 1998. However, like all liars they cannot admit to their limitations.
    Stupid is, as stupid does. Not a great slogan, but then again; the GOP cannot think of a better one.

    August 14, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. OrangeBlue81

    Never thought that I would ever agree with anything Newt said, but honesty compels me to admit that I agree with him here. Don't criticize others ideas unless you have a viable alternative.......a lesson those on the far right badly need to learn.

    August 14, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. zappo15

    Republicans have had no ideas for a long time except cutting taxes, cutting all programs many of them beneficial for the country and attempting to smear the opposition at any cost. Gingrich obviously is in that category as witnessed by his dismal presidential primary attempts.

    August 14, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. timelord7202


    As it was Obama who went to Romney's advisers to take the Massachusetts state plan and convert it into a nationwide plan, called a "BFD" by the VP for some reason... may as well call it "Romneycare"...

    August 14, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  19. scott

    That still doesn't mean Obamacare is a good thing. Just a normal CNN rah rah Obama can't do no wrong article.Like to see some articles of some heavy research on the front page of CNN on how much on average the increase/decrease will be by state to the middle class. Middle Class since Obama keeps claiming that he is looking out for the middle class. If Obamacare is working it should be easy for CNN to report on it.

    August 14, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  20. Mightyduk

    Mr. Gingrich is spot on. Period.

    August 14, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  21. allenwoll

    Health care has three categories
    1. Routine, mostly preventive care;
    2. Ordinary troubles that afflict any complex merchanism like the human body and ordinary accidents;
    3. Disasters : Life threatening illnesses and major accidents.
    Item 1. is dealt with via an HC Sanings plan, NOT insurance : There is NO risk to spread - It is a certainty.
    Item 2. is dealt with via an HC insurance plan designed to spread the risk over time;

    August 14, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  22. Ana

    Newt, for the first time in my life, I wholeheartedly agree with you. In fact, do the Republicans have any positive alternatives to immigration reform, welfare, or to women's health care? As a woman, I have felt for years that the Republicans mostly consist of a party of angry, old white men who cannot adapt to our changing culture. Now, we just have to wait for them to die off.

    August 14, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. Sk

    Too bad Mr. Gingrich hasn't been able to get thru to the Republicans. And too bad he didn't say this earlier and often.

    August 14, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  24. rs

    Obamacare will gut the middle class economically – which will cause our country to implode. People will also literally – die – due to poor health care.
    And space aliens will invade too, right? Where do you get this nonsense? 48,000 people die every year NOW because they don't have healthcare insurance. How can denying it to 35 million more Americans (as the GOP proposes) make that tragedy better? The ACA will save the middle class and the poor and the dropping insurance rates (as seen in NY-50%) will certainly go a long way to helping people get health insurance.
    BTW What in God's name makes you think the GOP cares about the middle class?

    August 14, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  25. stopdrinkinthekoolaid

    i guess doofus gingrich would have never thought of the fact – THAT WE DON"T HAVE TO HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE.. why does he even have an R after his name?

    Another government spending program is not needed to solve every little thing that the gov determines is a "crisis"

    Why doesn't he just switch to democrat and maybe be honest with his constituents?

    August 14, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
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