Here’s more evidence that Republicans have always hated Medicare. Ronald Reagan recorded this nasty propaganda screed in 1961 when he was an out-of-work B-actor working as a shill for the American Medical Association. The AMA opposed a bill in Congress (and that had the support of Pres. John Kennedy) that would have provided medical care for seniors — later known as Medicare — because they viewed it as a step toward “universal coverage,” which they saw as a threat to their fee structures.
– Reagan in 1961
The AMA’s distaff organization became so concerned that they put together the propganda exercise with Reagan:
Enter the Woman’s [sic] Auxiliary of the AMA an organization composed primarily of the wives of member physicians. In an essay titled “Operation CoffeeCup: Ronald Reagan’s Effort to Prevent the Enactment of Medicare,” Larry DeWitt, a public historian for the Social Security Administration, describes how the Woman’s Auxiliary was asked to launch a special high-priority initiative under the title of WHAM, Women Help American Medicine in 1961.
“The avowed aim of WHAM was bluntly stated,” DeWitt reports: “This campaign is aimed at the defeat of the King-Anderson [Medicare] bill of the 87th Congress, a bill which would provide a system of socialized medicine for our senior citizens and seriously curtail the quality of medical care in the United States.”
It’s interesting to note that, in addition to fearmongering, Republicans were astroturfing even then:
… Operation CoffeeCup arranged a series of coffee-klatches hosted by the members of the Woman’s Auxiliary. “The Auxiliary members were instructed to downplay the purpose of the get-togethers,” DeWitt explains, “depicting them as sort of spontaneous neighborhood events: “Drop a note — just say ‘Come for coffee at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. I want to play the Ronald Reagan record for you.'”
The last line of Reagan’s diatribe is the money shot: “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.”
He couldn’t have been more incorrect about Medicare, of course. It’s one of the most popular government programs in operation today.