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Monday, March 01, 2010

Nancy mangles history

Nancy Pelosi vows that she will get the votes to pass the Democrats' health care plan. We shall see. We shall see. It will be a real test of her ability to work her will on her caucus. Meanwhile, she is lying or mistating history as she tells her members that they should be willing to vote against what their constituents want.
“Our members, every one of them, wants health care,” Ms. Pelosi said. “They know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.”
Well, actually no. I know that this is a popular Democratic talking point, but it's just dang wrong. Both programs passed with bipartisan support and, as Polifact reports, were quite popular at the time.
To find out, we had to turn back the clock to 1935 — the height of the Great Depression — when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, an insurance program funded through taxpayer dollars meant to support retirees. The legislation was controversial for a number of reasons, including its perceived effects on the labor market and whether its benefits favored working white men.

Nevertheless, on Aug. 8, 1935, the conference report — the final version of the bill that melds together changes made in the House and in the Senate — passed in the House 372-33, with 81 Republicans voting in support. The next day, the bill was passed in the Senate 77-6, with 16 Republicans supporting the legislation. So Social Security did pass with Republican support.

Thirty years later, a significant number of Republicans voted in favor of the Medicare bill. The House adopted the conference report on July 27, 1965, 307-116, with 70 Republicans supporting it. And on July 28, the Senate adopted the final version of the bill by a vote of 70-24, with 13 Republicans in favor of the bill. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law on July 30, 1965.

But is Dean correct that the Republicans didn't support Medicare until the end?

Donald Ritchie, the associate historian in the U.S. Senate, told us that the Republican support wasn't just a last-minute phenomenon. During the discussion of both bills, "There were always progressive Republicans and liberal Republicans, some of whom supported Roosevelt and Johnson," Ritchie said.

Johnson had the political muscle to pass Medicare because the 1964 elections ushered in 42 new Democrats to the House of Representatives, giving the party a two-thirds majority overall and a larger majority on the Ways and Means Committee, where the legislation would originate. Up until then, many members of the committee, including its Democratic chairman, Wilbur D. Mills, opposed the idea of government-funded health care. In fact, Mills proved a tough sell in 1965 until some of his own pet proposals were added to the legislation. One of those — the addition of a voluntary, supplemental health care plan — had its roots in a Republican alternative bill.

In the House, no Republicans voted for the bill until it reached the floor. It passed the Ways and Means Committee by a party-line vote of 17-8, although the panel's GOP members endorsed some of the bill's non-health care related provisions, according to the 1965 Congressional Quarterly Almanac .

Likewise, all four Republicans on the House Rules Committee — the panel that sets the boundaries of debate on all bills that come to the House floor — voted against the bill.

In the Senate, however, there was Republican support in the Finance Committee. When the panel cast its final vote, the bill passed 12-5, with four of the committee's eight Republicans supporting it. (President Barack Obama would probably love to get even that much GOP backing.)

So we find Dean is glossing over the details and exaggerating the partisan split. Both Social Security and Medicare were indeed championed by Democrats, but passed with the help of Republican votes. And while some GOP members waited until the last minute to support Medicare, it was backed by half the Republicans on the Senate committee. So we find Dean's statement False.
But what do facts matter when you're in the middle of demagoguing on an issue and you want to pretend that those popular programs were just as unpopular in their own day as the Democratic plans are today. Nope. The only question is whether Nancy is deluded or lying. Your choice.


dwbh said...

I don't see how the vote counts for Social Security and Medicare make a difference in Pelosi's statement that it took courage to pass those programs. They were still controversial at the time. They would still have to face vigorous campaigns against their vote when they faced their constituents for the next election.

When it's clear that a bill will pass, you'll see a lot of congress members jump on the bandwagon and flip their final vote to be on the winning side, so I'm sure a lot of that happened with these bills too.

Mad Monica said...

Sorry, I don't believe there's anything benevolent in Nancy's comments. She, like those in charge of Congress and the White House today, has absolutely no problem lying through her teeth when it suits her or her party's needs.

What actually happened in history makes no difference to any of them. They routinely twist facts and/or flat out lie whenever needed. All that matters to them is the end result: whatever it takes to get the votes they need, they will do. Period.

Tacitus Voltaire said...

if you like, i can dig up the speech ronald reagan made during the medicare debate warning against it as the harbinger of eeevil socialized medicine

so what exactly is the point that betsy is making here? that it wasn't hard to pass social security and medicare because republicans were in favor of both of them? or, perhaps, some republicans voting for both SS & medicare translates somehow everything being rilly rilly easy for both of those bills and we just forget about the loud, doom predicting opposition that both of them faced?

as the church lady says, "how convenient"!

Tacitus Voltaire said...

Pelosi: "It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill."

um, pelosi doesn't say that no republicans voted for the bill. she says that it took political courage, and that the same forces are at work against it as before. so, when you argue

"Well, actually no. I know that this is a popular Democratic talking point, but it's just dang wrong. Both programs passed with bipartisan support"

your response does not address the statement she was making

she said it took courage. did you prove that members who voted for SS and medicare were not risking their seats?

she said the same forces that were working against the previous bills are at work now. tell me, what do you think that means?

tfhr said...


If Pelosi had a brain, I'd say she meant that uncontrolled growth of government, uncontrolled growth of entitlements, and unparalleled dependency on government was the reason (or "force") but since she has no brain, we'll have to rely on you to tell us.

Pat Patterson said...

What courage does it take to pass a bill in 1935 when the Democrats had overwhelming majorities in both houses with also a veto proof majority in the Senate. Plus between introduction and passage was only 6 months and signing it by FDR was 2 months later. But over 35 Democrats voted against Social Security vs 6 Republicans. So I guess TV is arguing that its the Democrats that are trying to block health care reform as they were the principal opposition in 1935.

tfhr said...

Pat Patterson,

Good points. If Obamacare wasn't such a loser, the Senate and House could have passed it but as we already know, it was Dem v. Dem that stopped it long enough to get the public wise to the scam.

Pat Patterson said...

Actually Reagan made several speeches and mostly guoted the authors of the early national insurance program which indeed were referred to by its supporters, Norman Thomas and Reps Foran and King, as compulsory.


Plus here's exactly what Reagan said about Social Security when he gave his endorsement speech of Sen Goldwater.

"Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we are denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we are always "against" things, never "for" anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so. We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem."

Thank goodness we have TV because everytime he breathlessly offers an opinion or link it mainly serves to refute his opinion and open up a new understanding of what conservatives actually stand for and not what are ghost stories told among the chatterati.

Pat Patterson said...

Typo above so this is the correct link.


tfhr said...

Pat Patterson,