Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Hanna Rosin points out at Andrew Sullivan’s blog that the rhetoric we’re hearing about health care reform now — this is the end of all freedom! — was identical to the rhetoric heard nearly 50 years ago when Medicare was created. In fact, here’s none other than Ronald Reagan making that exact claim back then:

If this program passes, one of these years we will tell our children and our children’s children what it was like in American when men were free.

And:

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism, or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.


In fact, we can go back much further than that. FDR’s New Deal program was, according to the tea baggers of that day, nothing less than a plan to bring about fascism in America. Even former president Herbert Hoover claimed this in his memoirs:

“Among the early Roosevelt fascist measures was the National Industry Recovery Act (NRA) of June 16, 1933 …. These ideas were first suggested by Gerald Swope (of the General Electric Company)… [and] the United States Chamber of Commerce. During the campaign of 1932, Henry I. Harriman, president of that body, urged that I agree to support these proposals, informing me that Mr. Roosevelt had agreed to do so. I tried to show him that this stuff was pure fascism; that it was a remaking of Mussolini’s “corporate state” and refused to agree to any of it. He informed me that in view of my attitude, the business world would support Roosevelt with money and influence. That for the most part proved true.”

Robert Taft was another critic, only he invoked the specter of communism rather than fascism (just as today’s tea baggers claim Obama is leading us toward both communism and fascism at the same time). The same rhetoric was heard at the time, that this was the end of American liberty forever. At some point, doesn’t the boy who cried wolf come to mind?