Gingrich wary of sharp shift in Medicare

May 15, 2011 at 2:18 PM

WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- Newt Gingrich distanced himself Sunday from radical changes in Medicare and said he opposes a "blank-check" lifting of the debt ceiling.

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," the former House speaker, who just announced his presidential candidacy, said: "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. … I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors."

He declined to endorse the voucher program proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

"I think that that is too big a jump," he said. "I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose. … I'm against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change."

Gingrich opposed "an automatic, blank-check" increase in the debt ceiling.

"I would say find a formula and pass very, very short debt ceiling increases with very small amounts and take some savings that the president couldn't possibly veto," he said. "And if you had to, do a debt ceiling every three weeks. But do not give him a blank check."

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