Nikki Haley defended Paul Ryan and his Medicare overhaul plan today like a tough older sister sticking up for her little brother against big, bad Newt Gingrich. "Here you've got Representative Ryan trying to bring common sense to this world of insanity, and Newt absolutely cut him off at the knees," Haley told CNN's Peter Hamby. The South Carolina governor's comments follow two days of Newt-bashing after Gingrich criticized Ryan's plan as "rightwing social engineering." Pundit Charles Krauthammer--who managed to find some nice words for the likes of Donald Trump--declared that Gingrich is "done," having committed a "capital offense against the Eleventh Commandment"--thou shalt not criticize a fellow Republican. NBC's First Read says the flap reveals a "new conservative litmus test... [I]f you criticize Ryan's budget plan--and, more importantly, its Medicare overhaul--then you're not considered a mainstream conservative Republican."
That's interesting, given t hat Ryan's Medicare proposal is considered to be dead. Though tinkering with the program is on the table, The Washington Post's Ezra Klein writes, Ryan's voucher idea is not. Republican leaders have been backing away from the plan, and, Klein notes, Ryan didn't defend it in a big speech about his budget plan Monday. "To say he glossed over it would be an understatement," Klein writes. "He rushed past it, like a man hastily greeting his ex on his way out of a party."