Political Correction

Heritage Foundation Celebrates Reagan's Birthday By Bashing Medicare

February 06, 2011 9:49 am ET - by Walid Zafar

For the greater part of the last two years, the conservative Heritage Foundation has based part of its campaign against health care reform on the argument that reform means a weakening of Medicare. Most recently, Heritage's James Capretta railed against the Affordable Care Act by arguing that it "will reduce seniors' access to quality health care by limiting the health care plan options currently available to them."

The charge is not only false but also ironic given that Republicans have repeatedly voted for Medicare cuts totaling more than a trillion dollars and we've heard barely a squeak from the folks at Heritage. Nevertheless, their new appreciation for Medicare — the most expansive and expensive government program — is worth something.

It's somewhat surprising, then, that Heritage chose to honor President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday by sending out a video in which the Gipper assails Medicare. The video is from 1961 and part of the American Medical Association's campaign to defeat the King-Anderson bill, legislation that would eventually become the Social Security Act of 1965, which established both Medicare and Medicaid. Reagan's rhetoric about that legislation mirrors all the false claims we hear about the Affordable Care Act.

REAGAN: And if you don't [stop Medicare] and I don't do it, 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.


Suffice it to say that Reagan's fear mongering didn't pan out. The passage of Medicare didn't mean the end of freedom or the end of the American dream or the collapse of capitalism. Reagan was bloviating and the Heritage Foundation's defense of Medicare is proof of that.  

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