Actually, Reagan Wasn’t So Proud of That 1965 Medicare Speech
Friday, August 21, 2009 at 5:44 pm
In the last month, there’s been a rediscovery of Ronald Reagan’s 1965 recording “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine.” Sarah Palin deserves a lot of the credit for this; she cited the speech in her 2008 debate with now-Vice President Joe Biden. Something that’s largely been forgotten, though, was that a much more famous Reagan quote — his “There you go again” dismissal of President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential debates–came when Reagan denied that he really meant this, or that he was “opposing the principle of providing care for” seniors in 1965.
The video is below:
CARTER: Governor Reagan, as a matter of fact, began his political career campaigning around this nation against Medicare. Now, we have an opportunity to move toward national health insurance, with an emphasis on the prevention of disease, an emphasis on out-patient care, not in-patient care; an emphasis on hospital cost containment to hold down the cost of hospital care far those who are ill, an emphasis on catastrophic health insurance, so that if a family is threatened with being wiped out economically because of a very high medical bill, then the insurance would help pay for it. These are the kinds of elements of a national health insurance, important to the American people. Governor Reagan, again, typically is against such a proposal.
REAGAN: There you go again. When I opposed Medicare, there was another piece of legislation meeting the same problem before the Congress. I happened to favor the other piece of legislation and thought that it would be better for the senior citizens and provide better care than the one that was finally passed. I was not opposing the principle of providing care for them. I was opposing one piece of legislation versus another.
Was Reagan being dishonest in 1965 or 1980? Well, in 1980, he did not want to admit that, had he had his way, there would not have been national health insurance for the elderly. This gets at the reason Republicans are not bending on health care reform; as Reagan often said, government programs, once enacted, were not often rolled back. The unspoken reason, though, was that government programs that provide universal services are pretty popular.
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