The naysayers are still among us

There may come a day when we here in America have settled our major arguments about what sort of healthcare system we should have and all that remains is making minor adjustments to something whose basic structure is no longer a point of contention. This is not that day.

But this is the anniversary of the day 54 years ago when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill that created Medicare and Medicaid.

What’s striking is how little things have changed. Back then, Democrats sought to expand the number of Americans with health coverage, having to overcome the determined opposition of Republicans and the healthcare industry.

Republicans warned that expanding government in this way would inevitably lead us down the road to socialism, which would leave America in ruins.

That situation is repeated today, but many things were different in 1965 as well. Democrats had huge majorities in Congress, propelled by Johnson’s 1964 landslide victory. They held a 295-140 advantage in the House and a 68-32 advantage in the Senate, margins that are unimaginable today.

 

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