Newt Gingrich vs. Newt Gingrich on Comparative Effectiveness Research

If I
had a time machine and could pluck people out of the past and bring
them into the present, I’d stage an all-Newt Gingrich debate, in
which Newts from various eras would be tasked with defending their
positions against competing Newts. Perhaps some future Newt,
hopefully drained of any remaining presidential ambition, could
serve as moderator, which would give us an opportunity to see how
he stands up to the scorn and contempt of his previous selves for
anyone who dares question the Gingrich. (On the other hand, maybe
it would just explode into a festival of self-congratulation.)

What might come up at such a debate? For starters, Gingrich’s
feelings about government-funded comparative effective research,
which, as The New York Times helpfully notes, Gingrich and
his health care consultancy, the Center for Health Transformation,
supported and praised right up until he decided that it was a
dehumanizing bureaucratic plot.
Here’s Gingrich in 2008

Shortly before Mr. Obama’s election in 2008, [Sen. Sheldon]
Whitehouse and Mr. Gingrich wrote an opinion article in The
Washington Times calling for a national, electronic health
information system. They also called for the creation of a
“comparative effectiveness institute” that could use the network to
“collect and understand the best practices of the country’s best
providers of care.” Such an institute, they wrote, “could not only
educate other providers on how to improve, but also inform policy
makers on how to design policy that promotes these best

When President Obama proposed spending tens of billions on
developing just such a system, Mr. Gingrich
in The New York Post in mid-January 2009, “The
president-elect should be applauded for making this vital priority
a key part of his economic stimulus plan.”

And here’s Gingrich
a few years later
, after he changed his mind:

When The Wall Street Journal editorial board, in January 2009,
criticized the bill for creating a Federal
Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research
the [the Gingrich-run Center for Health Transformation] was there
to defend it. The Journal argued that eventually “the comparative
effectiveness outfit will start to ration care to control costs.”
In a statement for the center, Mr. Merritt had said that while
those fears were understandable, “that argument is not currently
justifiable in the specific language of the bill.”

The following August, however, the coordinating council came in
for added scrutiny as conservative health care opponents rallied
against its creation in angry town-hall-style meetings and online,
playing into fears of “death panels.”Around the same, Mr. Gingrich
reversed his call for a “comparative effectiveness institute.”

“In our country, the road to dehumanizing, bureaucratic health
care rationing,” Mr. Gingrich wrote in Human Events, a conservative
publication, that August, “begins with something called comparative
effectiveness research.”

Later, the multiple Newts could discuss his alternating support
for and opposition to
a health insurance mandate
and his conflicting
criticism and praise for Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform
. Unless, of course, it turned out more like an
all-Gingrich version of this: