Health Care: Deja Vu All Over Again
Several years ago, Mike Pence, then a Republican congressman from Indiana, told Andrea Mitchell that Medicare was a failure because its costs had exceeded 1965 actuarial estimates. So they have, because Americans are living longer, largely because of Medicare and Medicaid.Miss Mitchell responded: “I don’t know if you want to go back to Indiana and campaign against Medicare.”So it goes, back almost a century. Just as the Republicans in Congress are desperate to destroy the Affordable Care Act, their predecessors tried to kill Medicare in the 1960s and Social Security in the 1930s. Here is what two Republicans who became president and two who ran for the highest office had to say about Medicare: In 1961, Ronald Reagan, just an actor then, appeared in an anti-Medicare television commercial, urging people to write to their representatives in Washington. “Write those letters now; call your friends and then tell them to write them,” Reagan said. “If you don’t, this program, I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, and behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country. … And if you don’t do this and if I don’t do it, one of these days we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”In 1964, Sen. Barry Goldwater, a candidate for president, said: “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.”That same year, George H.W. Bush, who would succeed Reagan as president, called Medicare “socialized medicine.”In 1996, Sen. Bob Dole, then the Republican candidate for president, boasted that he had voted against the Medicare bill, saying, “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare … because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.”“Over the years,” wrote Igor Volsky, a liberal blogger on ThinkProgess.com, “Republicans proposed numerous schemes to slash funding or privatize Medicare. Most notably, in 1995, under the leadership of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., Republicans proposed cutting 14 percent from projected Medicare spending over seven years and forcing millions of elderly recipients into managed health care programs. … The cuts were to ensure that Medicare is ‘going to wither on the vine,’ Gingrich explained. Similarly, during the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., proposed cutting $1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid.”
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.