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Podcast of the day: Witness- the birth of Medicare

It’s funny that the BBC frequently does American history better than, well, Americans. Recently, the BBC4 program, Witness, did a podcast on the Great Society and the birth of Medicare.

What I found interesting is that although LBJ was the president to sign the bill into law, the concept of Medicare was not a new one. It had been introduced into congress years earlier but had to wait until Democrats outnumbered Reoublicans by a ratio of roughly 2:1.

Think about that for a moment. In order to get the kinds of programs that theAmerican middle class actually likes, you have to reduce the number of Republicans in congress substantially. Conversely, when the number of Republicans reaches parity or exceeds it, these programs come under pressure for privatization and elimination.

This is a concept that escapes most voters who routinely vote for Republicans but who actually like liberal programs like Medicare and social security.

Check it out here: Witness- the Great Society and the birth of Medicare.

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24 Responses

  1. In order to get the kinds of programs that theAmerican middle class actually likes, you have to reduce the number of Republicans in congress substantially.

    And even then there’re no guarantees.

  2. We will never get comprehensive and meaningful health care reform until Democrats, or some other left of center party, has captured Bout 305 seats in congress and out numbers republicans in the senate by a supermajority.
    Short of that, you get nuthin’

    • A Democratic congress of 305? Scares the crap out of me. I’m all for single payer health insurance. It’s the other stuff that they would do. But I don’t want a congress with 305 Republicans, either. Most Americans live near the middle of the political spectrum. Over time congress should, too. If that means that it takes time to make big changes, that’s not always a bad thing. As Grandma used to say, “Marry in haste. Repent at leisure.” Americans appeared to be ready for real universal health care, and they elected a large enough Democratic majority to make it happen. They didn’t, and now it’s gone. But if Americans really want it, they’ll wait awhile and try again with a different cast of characters. We always do. The pendulum keeps swinging.

      • Have it your way. That’s probably what it’s going to take. What the 2:1 ratio is telling you is that republicans have a long standing habit of getting in the way of programs the middle class likes. If you ever want to change that, you have to make their ability to oppose negligible.
        When republicans have critical mass, they take no prisoners. If you think you can reason with them to cut the working class a break, you haven’t been paying attention. They’re not going to do anything in a bipartisan manner until they have absolutely no choice. And even them they probably won’t. They don’t think government works and they are going to work damn hard to prove it.
        I don’t make the rules.
        Pick your poison. Endless gridlock or annoying Democrats.

        • I’m not suggesting gridlock. What I’m saying is that the pendulum swings back and forth and that the result is that over time the middle wins. We gave the Democrats the impetus to move the agenda left. They didn’t, and now the agenda will move right. People will want to check them, too, and the pendulum will swing left again. The problem is that the current crop of Democrats dropped the ball when they had it, but if we want universal health care, we’ll give the Democrats the ball again. In the long run, the middle gets what it wants – as it should be. So we have social security and medicare. And someday we’ll have universal health care, too, if the middle wants it.

          • Um, they didn’t do anything because they did not significantly outnumber republicans. That’s the whole point. Being slightly in the majority in the house wasn’t enough. The majority has to be overwhelmingly in favor of the NOT republican party.
            Of course, it should have been easier in the Senate but we’ve got Nelson and Lieberman who are securely not helpful.

          • I’m not sure this point us getting across: Republicans do not want government to work for average Americans. There’s nothing you can do to make them cooperate. The public keeps demanding cooperation but the only ones that are moving are Democrats. Then the public gets mad at them. You can’t do this with a simple majority. You have to completely shut republicans down.
            Now, if you don’t like Democrats, you can call your new party any damn thing you like. The name is unimportant. It just has to be twice as large as the Republican party.
            What we need is a third party to take up approximately 30% of the seats and effectively shut Republicans down. Any other stab at a middle is a just a fantasy. It hasn’t worked and it will never work with Republicans. The republican party now represents the cavalier culture of the south. Theyre here to make as much money as they can. They once owned slaves and don’t think for a moment they don’t dream of that possibility again. Give workers just enough to subsist. If they were worth anything, they wouldn’t be lOsers. That’s not the way Republicans started but that’s what happened after the civil rights era. Now these Neanderthals are going to keep this country from evolving and they do it by flooding the airwaves with the silly notion that if we all just try to get along bipartisanly, things will go swimmingly.
            It hasnt worked and it will never work.
            Time for the other strategy v

    • You could have 99 Democrats in the Senate and the lone Republican would need chapstick on his ass from getting it kissed so much..

      • I dont believe that. A 2:1 ratio is a mandate that would be very hard to resist. It would mean the public is saying no to the right wing in no uncertain terms.
        The problem is the public keeps thinking there is some intermediate position that is preferable.
        There isn’t.
        Bipartisanship doesn’t work with Republicans because they don’t want it to work.
        So, overwhelm them and get things done.
        Of course, it doesn’t have to be Democrats. It could be any left of center coalition. It just had to be big enough and probably 10% bigger than you think you need to shutdown the Republicans.
        All the public has to do is vote republicans out.
        Seems so easy and it is. Its been done before. The public just has to want it badly enough.

        • Have they been putting Democratic Koolaid in the Jeebus juice at lunch?

          • You can call the opposition anything you like. I’m just sick and tired of Republicans dragging the country to the right and ruining the country I grew up in. If that means voting them into a minority status that can’t do anything for a couple of election cycles, I’m all for it.
            Democrats didn’t always used to be so cowardly and incompetent.
            Get rid of the current crop of democrats by primarying them.
            This us not impossible. People just have to want to do it.

          • RD … that’s what we’ve got to do. Run Confluencians for every office!

  3. Gee, I wonder if Howard Dean feels even a twinge of remorse?

  4. Although Obama perfected the art of transferring taxpayers money to the filthy rich, the idea was actually invented by Bernie Madoff way before Obama went to college.

    • actually, Madoff transferred money from taxpayers and nontaxpayers, poor and rich, filthy and otherwise, to himself.

    • Started way before Madoff. How about the S&L meltdown during the 80s. Wall Street got rich from the resulting government bailouts and guarantees. They are very good at making money from crises, financial or otherwise.

  5. “Democrats” and “Republicans” don’t mean a thing anymore- they are all essentually the same people. I’m 76 years old and I remember what they were like during the JFK and L. Johnson eras. Even Nixon would be considered a “Democrat” nowadays. We just don’t have the same type of people running for office anymore. I don’t see any hope or change coming re: health care while I’m still alive.

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