Gingrich explains change of heart on Ryan budget

CBS News

(CBS News) After having to apologize last year to House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for calling the Medicare overhaul in his budget proposal "right-wing social engineering," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Sunday argued his budget efforts, "in my mind, makes him an extraordinarily exciting choice" as Mitt Romney's newly announce VP nominee, "because you now have a national leader who is capable of talking in detail with the American people about some very complicated topics."

"The one thing I objected to back in May 2011," Gingrich told CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes, "was that he eliminated Medicare for everybody. He came back with Ron Wyden. He listened, and one of the things I give Paul a lot of credit for is, he really listens. And he came back with an improved Medicare plan that Ron Wyden [the Democratic senator from Oregon] has co-sponsored and is the only bipartisan reform, by the way... It basically allows people to stay in the current system. He met my only objection."

(Watch Gingrich on "Face the Nation.")

Gingrich said the only fallout from the plan in senior-heavy states like Pennsylvania and Florida, would come as a result of "plain lies" from President Obama's campaign alleging the proposal would risk their Social Security and Medicare: "The Romney team doesn't touch anybody who's over 55, so it's a non-event," he said. "It's just plain, a lie, to run a campaign trying to scare people who are over 55 about his plan... if you want to keep the current system, you can."

"I think you can have an honest debate about it," Gingrich continued, "but when you start with an Obama plan which took $700 billion out of Medicare in order to put it into Obamacare, I think you're gong to have a pretty hard time being credible in trying to scare people about Paul Ryan."

Challenged by Cordes that by cutting tax revenue, Ryan's plan would not generate a budget surplus until 2040, Gingrich countered that the Congressional Budget Office's method of scoring is "just factually false." He also defended Romney's gaffe-laden trip to the United Kingdom, which he said "was not an effort to lay out a philosophy.

  • Lindsey Boerma On Twitter»

    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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