Saturday, December 18, 2010

Healthcare: Opposition to Health Law Is Steeped in Tradition

We are against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, said one prominent critic of the new health care law. It is socialized medicine, he argued. If it stands, he said, one of these days, you and I 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.

The health care law in question was Medicare, and the critic was Ronald Reagan. He made the leap from actor to political activist, almost 50 years ago, in part by opposing government-run health insurance for the elderly.

The federal income tax, a senator from New York said a century ago, might mean the end of our distinctively American experiment of individual freedom. Social Security was actually a plan to Sovietize America, a previous head of the Chamber of Commerce said in 1935. The minimum wage and mandated overtime pay were steps in the direction of Communism, Bolshevism, fascism and Nazism, the National Association of Manufacturers charged in 1938.

After Brown v. Board of Education outlawed school segregation in 1954, 101 members of Congress signed a statement calling the ruling an instance of naked judicial power that would sow chaos and confusion and diminish American greatness. A decade later, The Wall Street Journal editorial board described civil rights marchers as asking for trouble and civil rights laws as being on the outer edge of constitutionality, if not more.

This year's health care overhaul has now joined the list.

For much more, see Opposition to Health Law Is Steeped in Tradition by David Leonhardt, December 14, 2010 at The New York Times.

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