Gingrich, who has risen to front-runner status in the GOP presidential race, said he is only for minimal government regulation to keep the public safe and not in the business of picking winners and losers.
When Beck criticized his support for ethanol subsidies, which he said involved government selecting a winner, Gingrich said: “What I object to is subsidizing things that don’t work and things that aren’t creating a better future.”
When Beck hit him for his support of the Medicare Advantage program, which some Tea Party supporters say is a government giveaway that has contributed to the massive federal deficit, Gingrich said if you are going to have a Medicare program, it needs to include the drug benefits.
Beck opened by saying he had serious concerns about Gingrich, who in a new poll released Tuesday held a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney among Iowa caucus goers.
“I’m asking questions because I truly, deeply care about the country just as much as Newt Gingrich does; but we differ on the answers, I believe,” Beck said.
The host then played an audio clip of Gingrich calling himself “a Theodore Roosevelt Republican” who believes the government should regulate the healthcare industry because “no private corporation has the purchasing power or the ability to reshape the health system.”
Roosevelt was the founder of the progressive movement, and the Tea Party movement is staunchly against government interference in the healthcare industry.
Beck also played audio of Gingrich arguing in favor of an individual insurance mandate, a key part of President Obama’s healthcare law that will be the subject of a Supreme Court decision next year.
“I am for people, individuals, exactly like automobile insurance, individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance,” Gingrich said in 1993. “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.”
Beck also played audio of Gingrich repeating this sentiment as late as May 2011.
Gingrich argued that he wasn’t talking about the individual mandate, but rather “a variation” of it.
Beck also hit Gingrich on his criticism of Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE’s (R-Wis.) “Path to Prosperity” Medicare overhaul, which Gingrich has called “right-wing social engineering.”
Gingrich implied that his words were taken out of context, and that he would, in fact, implement Ryan’s Medicare overhaul.
“What I was asked was if a program is unpopular, should the Republicans impose it anyway,” Gingrich said. “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,” Gingrich continued.
Beck also brought up what Gingrich has called “the dumbest” move of his career: sitting on a couch with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to warn about global warming.
Many conservatives believe liberals are overreaching to implement a green agenda that is both costly and unnecessary, and in the past Gingrich has said we should “urgently” take “the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon looting of the atmosphere,” calling it a “green conservatism.”
“I think that there is evidence on both sides of the climate change argument,” Gingrich said Tuesday. “It’s a prudent thing to develop a green coal plant that takes the carbon and puts it into carbon sequestration to use it to develop oil fields more deeply and can be actually economically done. We do it right now in West Texas.”
Beck closed by telling the candidate, “I hope my staff made it clear that this isn’t going to be an easy interview.”