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Reagan and Churchill - contrasting views on health care

Two Views of Health Law

Letters, The New York Times
December 27, 2010

To the Editor:

Re “In Health Law, Old Arguments Get New Airing,” by David Leonhardt (Economic Scene, front page, Dec. 15):

It is interesting to compare Ronald Reagan’s argument opposing Medicare as “socialized medicine,” a program that would take away the freedom of “our children and our children’s children,” with the words of one of his heroes.

In 1944 Winston Churchill, while still prime minister, said that “our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country irrespective of means, age, sex or occupation shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available.”

Humphrey Taylor
New York, Dec. 15, 2010

The writer is chairman of the Harris Poll.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/28/opinion/lweb28health.html

“In Health Law, Old Arguments Get New Airing,” by David Leonhardt:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/15/business/economy/15leonhardt.html

And...

Actually, Reagan Wasn’t So Proud of That 1965 Medicare Speech

By David Weigel
The Washington Independent
August 21, 2009

In the last month, there’s been a rediscovery of Ronald Reagan’s 1965 recording “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine.” 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.

http://washingtonindependent.com/56004/actually-reagan-wasnt-so-proud-of-that-1965-medicare-speech

Comment: 

By Don McCanne, MD

Winston Churchill represented the view of most conservative politicians in recent history when he said that "everybody in the country irrespective of means, age, sex or occupation shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available."

Even Ronald Reagan tried to erase his personal history of opposing Medicare by stating during the debate with President Carter, "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."

So what has happened? Why are conservative politicians in the United States implicitly paying homage to the Chicago school of economics when their policies result in tens of millions of Americans being denied equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical services that Winston Churchill spoke of? Does the faith in the abstraction of free market ideology really trump the actual health and welfare of the citizenry?

It would be too much of a stretch to classify this as a folie en masse. However the feigned obliviousness toward the unmet needs of fellow citizens can hardly be interpreted as anything other than heartless neglect driven by greed.

The conservatives and their moderate co-conspirators have updated Russell Long's famous quotation: Don't tax you, don't tax me, and above all don't even consider taxing that rich man behind the tree even if it means destroying social justice and common decency along with it.