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. kathy

    Well I guess this guy backed something worth while once in his life. Not sure if I am missing important details but we owe that or seniors who contributed to our country and payed much tax and soc sec that they will never get more than a fraction of. If you will remember, our seniors used to be loading up buses to Canada to buy medication prior to this because of the high costs here or eating cat food to afford their medication.l

    December 28, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. catwill

    This proves that Newt was for the Medicare drug bill before he was against it and he did lobby indirectly for big Pharma.

    December 28, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    If we lived in a republican world, we would definitely be a third world country.

    December 28, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Oh. Oh my. This is not good news for conservatives. This is definitely not good news for Republicans and their blame casting of the causes of the explosion in national debt over the past decade, and still ongoing until we can change our tax codes significantly.

    This is definitely not good news for Newt Gingrich. If he wants to compare the previous rounds of relentless attacks to Pearl Harbor, then this story is his Hiroshima with Nagasaki just around the corner, three days away. Uh, oh. I hate to see a good guy go out in a ball of flames, but I didn't say that Newt was a good guy, now did I?

    December 28, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. JonWNC

    Newt is epitome of the career politician/lobbyist that the Tea Party claims to despise. It will be amazing to watch them line up behind him if he gets the nomination.

    December 28, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. glyder

    he's a progressive.he's already admitted that.

    December 28, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. jean2009

    As I've said many times; the Republicans do not want to repeal the health care legislation only the parts that deny insurance companies the right to cherry picking those they will insure and allow them to dump people when they get sick.

    December 28, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. K3Citizen

    The whole republican party is full of hypocrites so it is no wonder he has millions of dollars from GOP supporters.

    December 28, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. John B

    Face it. He'd do anything for a few bucks.

    December 28, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. Phil in KC

    Oh my gosh! Does this mean that Gringrich is a moderate?! Surely not!
    I just want to know when moderate became a dirty word in the Republican party. Not that Newt is one; he is definitely a neo-con. Of course, that's kind of scary too – when someone with conservative bona fides is labelled a moderate.

    December 28, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  11. edison

    To ALL: Healthcare is a problem, accept it and try to make it better. The only reason a person needs supplemental Ins is because there's garbage.

    December 28, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    What was his rationale for supporting the unpaid for Medicare Part D? It helped some seniors get the medications that they needed. The questions for me is about getting it paid for which was never resolved. Where was the magic bullet to get that done?

    December 28, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. strangerq

    Well I guess this guy backed something worth while once in his life. Not sure if I am missing important details but we owe that or seniors who contributed to our country and payed much tax and soc sec that they will never get more than a fraction of.

    ^ The issue was that the GOP passed this but did not pay for it. It's a part of Health Care reform now, but now it is actually being paid for.

    Remember Bush passed this to ingratiate himself to seniors and when VP Cheney was asked about running up deficits he said -> "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

    GOP is a very cynical – – extremely hypocritical organization.

    ^ Hence, now all they want to do is privatize medicare which would effectively destroy it.

    They simply talk out of different sides of their mouths dependent on whether they – or the democrats control the government.

    December 28, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. vic , nashville ,tn

    I hope Independents voters take note of what is going on in GOP primary

    December 28, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. TeaPartyIsForLittleGirls

    I love these naughty republicans – They are against helping middle class, poor seniors, veterans except when it benefits Big Pharma.

    They might as well put logos of their sponsors on their suits, like NASCAR drivers.

    December 28, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Tom

    "If we lived in a republican world, we would definitely be a third world country."

    Or we can follow Obama's example and become a failed European state.

    December 28, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. svann

    "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.

    Right, so lobbyists can just say they are private citizens voicing their opinion and skirt the lobbying laws?

    December 28, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. DVH

    People may complain about Dems raising taxes, but at least they pay for the programs they implement. Contrast that with 30 years of Republicans expanding government while expecting future generations to foot the bill.

    December 28, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. Valiently trying

    The medicare drug plan had a big gift to big pharma. The government CANNOT bargain for lower prices on drugs.

    That is the gift that keeps giving. TO BIG PHARMA. But of course the Newet didn't know that little bit of slight of hand was in the bill. Sure he didn't. And if you believe that, I've got some ocean front property in Arizona you might want to buy.

    December 28, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. bobby frank-dallas, texas

    Hey....if they are wasting money on seniors then i am all for it! It's the bridges to nowhere that i have a problem with. Like someone said Seniors paid in all their lives to the program and now it is time for a payback. We owe so much to our elderly so this is just plane nonsense and crazy talk. By the way I am not on Newt's side until it comes to this issue.

    December 28, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  21. Larry L

    Why are conservatives having such a tough time understanding Newt's character? Why not just admit you really don't care if he's dishonest – he's simply not a Mormon (delete Romney and Huntsman), he's not completely stupid (delete Perry, Santorum & Bachman), and he's not an African American (delete the Democrats). Why is this hard? You're greedy, narrow-minded bigots who don't give a rat's @$$ for integrity – embrace it!

    December 28, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. awsomedeal

    Why is it wrong to provide medicare part D people need medications and its insane that anyone would be against healthcare for all...................

    December 28, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  23. AL in West Palm Beach

    It's not lobbying? really?

    How many of you poor schmucks on here can call a member a congress, get thru to him or her and then tell him or him, "I want you to vote in this manner."

    Hey Newt...THAT IS LOBBYING.

    December 28, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    So Newter is onboard with corporate welfare. That makes him just the same as the entire group of candidates except for Ron Paul.

    December 28, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. MWM

    Privatize medicare is euphemism for subsidize health insurance companies.

    December 28, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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