The Washington Post, The Fix: July 31, 2015
by Janell Ross
The warnings were dire.
The American Medical Association was so opposed that it hired then-actor and future-president Ronald Reagan to voice its concerns. And in a series of ads, paid speeches and a 1961 record distributed by the AMA, Reagan made a case.
If Medicare became a reality, the argument went, this moment would later be understood as the beginning of socialism in the United States. And, Reagan said in no uncertain terms, Medicare would also someday be understood as the end of things Americans hold dear, including, well, freedom. (You can listen for yourself if you click on the video below. The heart of Reagan's argument begins at 5:24.)
That should sound at least a little familiar to anyone who lived through the Clintons' disastrous attempt to build a national health-care program and anyone awake for the last few years of disagreement about Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act.
This is language so powerful that it helped give birth to a very profitable and now-omnipresent industry -- political communications -- in the 1940s. But, despite the potency of Reagan's 1961 message, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare bill 50 years ago Thursday.