Presidential contender Newt Gingrich took a potshot Sunday at Republican House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare, becoming the most prominent Republican to distance himself from the plan.

Ryan’s proposal, which was passed by the GOP-controlled House in April, would have people 54 and younger choose from a list of coverage options and have Medicare make “premium-support payments” to the plan they chose.

“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” Gingrich scoffed in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

House Republicans, including Speaker John A. Boehner, have stood behind Ryan’s plan, which was the subject of fierce debate at town-hall meetings nationwide. Other Republican presidential contenders have praised Ryan’s political courage without going so far as to endorse the budget blueprint.

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