Gingrich quick to praise Ryan budget

Newt Gingrich quickly pledged support Tuesday for the fiscal 2013 budget from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), steering clear of a controversy that dogged his campaign last year.

The presidential hopeful took heavy fire from conservatives for dubbing Ryan's 2012 plan "right-wing social engineering," and later apologized personally to Ryan for the remarks.

This time around, Gingrich wasted no time endorsing Ryan's fiscal blueprint, calling it "courageous" shortly after it was released. 

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"I think what Ryan is doing is courageous. He’s essentially right and the gap between him and Barack Obama is all that you need to know about why you want to beat Obama," Gingrich said on Fox News Radio. "I mean, Paul Ryan represents a serious adult effort to get back to a balanced budget and save our children and grandchildren from drowning in debt."

Ryan's plan would shrink the number of brackets in the tax code from six to two, with a 25 percent top rate and a lower, 10 percent rate. The plan also calls for offering an alternative alongside traditional Medicare that would provide federal subsidies to help seniors buy private insurance.

The budget plan Ryan released last year also offered the subsidy supports, but did not preserve traditional Medicare, leading Gingrich to say that he didn'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," Gingrich said in May.

The comments sparked strong criticism from conservatives, and Gingrich eventually walked back his comments.

Besides Gingrich, Ron Paul also weighed in on the budget plan. The Texas Republican criticized the plan as failing to "go far enough to address the extreme fiscal problems we face as a nation." He said the plan balanced the budget too far into the future and doesn't adequately cut spending. 

Gingrich reiterated his praise in a statement later on Tuesday.

"As president I would work very closely with Chairman Ryan to reform government and balance the budget," the former House Speaker said in a statement.

—This story was updated at 5:11 p.m.