The transcript of Glenn Beck’s interview with Newt Gingrich is remarkable because Beck asks Gingrich a number of different policy questions, which Gingrich answers without any apparent concern for establishing his conservative credentials. He even fails to clearly separate his own views on the individual mandate for health care insurance from those of Obama — a distinction that one would think he would be quick to make, given Mitt Romney’s health care troubles. The transcript can be confusing, but here’s the relevant part:
GLENN: All right. Well, and I think this is where we fundamentally differ is it seems to me ‑‑ and let me just play the audio here ‑‑ that you are for the individual mandate for healthcare and you have been for quite some time. Let’s play the audio.
GINGRICH: I am for people, individuals, exactly like automobile insurance, individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance, and I am prepared to vote for a voucher system which will give individuals on a sliding scale a government subsidy so it will ensure that everyone as individuals have health insurance.
GLENN: Okay. That’s 1993. Here is May 2011.
GINGRICH: All of a sudden responsibility to help pay for healthcare. And I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. I’ve said consistently we ought to have some requirement to either have health insurance or you post a bond or in some way you indicate you are going to be held accountable.
VOICE: That is the individual mandate, is it not?
GINGRICH: It’s a variation on it.
GLENN: Here’s about Paul Ryan trying to fix Medicare.
GINGRICH: I don’t think rightwing social engineering is any more desirable than leftwing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate. So there are things you can do to improve Medicare.
VOICE: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting which is completely changing Medicare?
GINGRICH: I think that that is too big a jump. 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 upon. I don’t want ‑‑ I’m against ObamaCare which is imposing radical change and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.
GLENN: Okay. Yet you seem to always be ‑‑ this is long‑term individual mandate stuff. You seem to be very interested in the government finding the solution.
GINGRICH: Well, let’s go back to what I just said. What I was asked was if a program is unpopular, should the Republicans impose it anyway. We can go back and we can listen to exactly what I was asked on that show and what I said I stand by, which is in a free society, you don’t elect officials to impose on you things that you disagree with. We just went through this slide over ObamaCare.
Now, I also, ironically, I would implement the Medicare reforms that Paul Ryan wants, I would implement them next year as an optional choice and I would allow people to have the option to choose premium support and then have freedom to negotiate with their doctor or their hospital in a way that would increase their ability to manage costs without being involved, you know ‑‑ but I wouldn’t impose it on everybody across the board. I think that’s a very large scale experiment. But I think you could migrate people toward it. I’m proposing the same thing on Social Security. I think young people ought to have the right to choose a personal Social Security insurance savings account plan and the Social Security actuary estimates that 95% of young people would pick a personal Social Security savings account over the current system but they would do so voluntarily because we would empower them to make a choice. We wouldn’t impose it on them. That’s a question of how do you think you can get this country to move more rapidly toward reform, and I think you can get it to move toward reform faster.
GLENN: All right.
GINGRICH: By giving people the right to choose.
In this and other parts of the interview, Gingrich doesn’t seem to realize or care that the issues he’s discussing are hot-button topics among conservatives.