Gingrich urged yes vote on controversial Medicare bill, former congresswoman says
December 28th, 2011
03:02 PM ET
10 years ago

Gingrich urged yes vote on controversial Medicare bill, former congresswoman says

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Another Republican has come forward to say that Newt Gingrich personally pressed her and other members of Congress in 2003 to vote for a controversial Medicare prescription drug benefit.

The provision, known as Medicare Part D, passed the House that summer by a narrow margin and eventually took effect in 2006.

The costly legislation helps seniors pay for their prescription drugs under Medicare but is now blamed by many conservatives for exploding the federal deficit.

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.

Gingrich's rivals in the presidential race have accused him of becoming a lobbyist after he left Congress, citing the $1.6 million in fees paid to his consulting firm by Freddie Mac before the collapse of the housing market.

The former House speaker has said he did no lobbying on behalf of the federally backed mortgage company.

Musgrave, who is neutral in the presidential race, said she was one of few Republicans holding out against the prescription drug bill and was facing an onslaught of pressure to support it from GOP House leaders at the time.

But Musgrave said she was not sure if Gingrich was technically "lobbying" when he called her, because she did not know if he was working for anyone else at the time.

"All I know is he wanted a yes," Musgrave said.

Gingrich addressed his support for the bill Wednesday after a campaign event in Iowa.

"I'm allowed as a citizen to say I'd like to see this passed and that's not lobbying," he told reporters in Mason City. "I wasn't paid by anybody to say that. It was a public position I had taken for a practical reason ... That was a public position taken publicly and is literally by definition not lobbying."

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said the former speaker publicly supported the Medicare proposal at the time and was speaking for himself and not on behalf of any client.

"Newt Gingrich regularly speaks to the Republican caucus on a variety of issues both regarding foreign policy and domestic," Hammond told CNN.

"So the idea of him going up to speaking to caucus members about the prescription drug benefit, and making his argument as a former speaker about why he supports it is not unusual," he added. "He routinely would speak to members and give his counsel on a wide variety of issues, for over a decade."

Filed under: Medicare • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    awsomedeal wrote:

    Why is it wrong to provide medicare part D people need medications and its insane that anyone would be against healthcare for all...................
    That's easy. Money. It's all about the money. Where it starts from, and where it ends up. Medicare Part D is public money, tax payer dollars, going to private industry. Greed is good, so that is good. The argument against health care reform is more subtle because it involves a totally false argument to disguise the fact that it is really all about the money.

    Private insurance companies want to be able to drop people when they get sick. They also wish to deny converage to people with pre-existing conditions. Health care reform prohibits those practices, and a few others private insurers find disagreeable because it may decrease the size of their bottom lines. It wouldn't sound too good if they came out publicly and cited those reasons because people would shrug and say, "So."

    So, they invent the altruistic sounding argument about the individual lmandate when the real objection is to the coverage mandates on the private insurers. Notice how all of the efforts are not to merely delete the individual mandate, which should satisfy the objection if it were genuine. No. All efforts are to throw out the *entire* law, coverage mandates and all.

    December 28, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. Ali Gator chomp chomp chomp

    The united states is at a huge disadvantage when our citizens do not have universal medical care and all our western counter parts do. Our industry pays far higher rates and this makes our products far more costly. If any of those pro business arguments had any validity the Republicans would support single payer universal health care. The fact that they do no support health care tells the real story it is all about money, money in their pockets. I believe congress would sell the country to any dictator who could afford to buy them. We have the best congress corporate money can but. Just look at the results. Repub, dem, they are all crooks of one sort or another.

    Oh sorry we don't make anything any more but we are really great whiners.
    We are TOAST! Newt paders to who ever has the softest lips!

    December 28, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. Johnathan

    The drug bill was a PEARL HARBOR to the deficit no tea bagger gave a darn about until the country voted for a black man. How's that for reality.

    December 28, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. Free Market

    The "Wrong" in this bill for which all Republican supporters should hand is that it forbade the government from negotiating prices with the drug companies. This simply props up US and (mostly) foreign drug companies and then allows them to charge giveaway prices elsewhere (and not just the third world.) This bill is conceptually great, but this Republican "sweetener" galls me. We can be "free market" is our thinking and hand out candy like this.

    December 28, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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