Gingrich to Democrats: Push small health bills
by Shannon McCaffrey
Associated Press Writer
February 25, 2010 01:00 AM | 1077 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Wednesday that Democrats should push a series of small bills tackling individual health care issues rather than trying again to approve a sweeping overhaul.

Speaking in Atlanta the day before President Barack Obama holds a bipartisan summit on healthcare, Gingrich warned that Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Harry Reid are "going through a public relations dance for the purpose of setting up a last desperate effort to pass a bill through reconciliation," a parliamentary tactic that would disallow GOP filibusters.

He said that for Reid to use reconciliation to ram through an issue as massive as health care "would be an act worthy of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela."

"It would be a raw demonstration of Chicago machine-style politics," Gingrich told reporters following a speech to the Atlanta Press Club.

Republicans repeatedly used reconciliation when they were in power, including the effort to push former President George W. Bush's tax cuts through Congress in 2001.

Gingrich said the White House and Congress should move individually on healthcare initiatives where there is broad agreement.

"I don't know why they're addicted to getting everything or nothing because they're going to end up with nothing," he said.

Gingrich suggested Congress should adopt tort reform, which he said would bring down medical malpractice rates. That's a favorite initiative of Republicans. He also said he favored allowing consumers to be able to purchase health insurance across state lines in an effort to boost competition.

Gingrich has been outspoken for years on health reform. He formed the Center for Health Transformation as an incubator for conservative health initiatives.

The former congressman from Georgia has been flirting with a run for the presidency in 2012. He made no mention of his political ambitions Wednesday.

But as the keynote speaker at the Georgia Republican Party's annual fundraising dinner Wednesday night he offered more political red meat, calling for the firing of Attorney General Eric Holder for his handling of the attempted Christmas Day bombing aboard a Detroit-bound airliner.

And Gingrich bashed Obama as "a socialist by any standard."

"It doesn't mean he's evil, it just means he has dumb ideas," Gingrich said to appreciative laughter from several hundred party faithful.

"This is clearly the most radical president in American history."
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