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Nikki Haley Does Not Speak For Me

Thomas Whitley

This Sunday, Newt Gingrich went on NBC's "Meet the Press" and expressed concerns on Rep. Paul Ryan's medicare plan. Gingrich is now getting blasted by the right for, apparently, not blindly supporting anything another Republican presents. Nikki Haley, my governor here in South Carolina, is among those with harsh words for Gingrich over his statements, saying she is "terribly disappointed" in Gingrich.

Gov. Nikki Haley Hammers Gingrich over Medicare remarks: "What he said was absolutely unfortunate," Haley told CNN in a phone interview. "Here you've got Representative Ryan trying to bring common sense to this world of insanity, and Newt absolutely cut him off at the knees."

Many news outlets are reporting on this and continually reference Gingrich calling Ryan's plan "right-wing social engineering." It is true that Gingrich used that phrase, but it has been taken out of context. Here is the pertinent portion of the interview from the official transcript of "Meet the Press" on May 15:

MR. GREGORY:  What about entitlements?  The Medicare trust fund, in stories that have come out over the weekend, is now going to be depleted by 2024, five years earlier than predicted.  Do you think that Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors...


MR. GREGORY:  ...some premium support and--so that they can go out and buy private insurance?

REP. GINGRICH:  I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing 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.  I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors.  But there are specific things you can do.  At the Center for Health Transformation, which I helped found, we published a book called "Stop Paying the Crooks." We thought that was a clear enough, simple enough idea, even for Washington.  We--between Medicare and Medicaid, we pay between $70 billion and $120 billion a year to crooks.  And IBM has agreed to help solve it, American Express has agreed to help solve it, Visa's agreed to help solve it.  You can't get anybody in this town to look at it.  That's, that's almost $1 trillion over a decade.  So there are things you can do to improve Medicare.

Gingrich's qualms with Ryan's plan is that it is mandatory. It seems to me that Gingrich was, for once, being consistent in his message. He opposes the mandatory provisions in Obama's health care reform bill and he opposes the mandatory provisions in Ryan's medicare plan.

What upsets me most, though, are Haley's comments toward the end of her interview with CNN:

Asked if presidential hopefuls should back the Ryan budget plan in its entirety, Haley answered: "What I can tell you is, the people of South Carolina support Representative Ryan. The people of South Carolina support conservatives who are trying to push real change, and the people of South Carolina expect their presidential candidates to back them up when they show courage."

Actually, Gov. Haley, we do not all support Rep. Ryan's plan. In fact, some of us, who have actually read the plan, have great misgivings and reservations with Ryan's plan that would ultimately leave seniors in even greater hardship than they are in now. Even more telling is that fellow Republicans have misgivings with Rep. Ryan's plan.

So, I respectfully ask you, Gov. Haley, not to speak as if you speak for every single South Carolinian, because the truth of the matter is that while South Carolina is very Republican and very conservative, we are not all of one mind. As crazy as it sounds, there are people in SC that think through the issues and simply come down at a different place than you. We would like the same amount of respect and support that you afford those who happen to agree with you.