John Nichols: A Historic Vote for Health-Care Reform





[John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent.]

It fell to the senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Michigan Democrat John Dingell, to put Sunday night's vote in favor of landmark health care legislation in perspective.

"Today we are doing something that ranks with Social Security and Medicare," declared the man whose father served during the New Deal era that gave America Social Security and who himself was present for the historic vote to create Medicare and Medicaid.

Dingell knew of what he spoke....

Consider the battle of the mid-1930s over Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Social Security Act, which created what is now one of the most popular federal programs....

As the Great Depression raged, Roosevelt became convinced that a Social Security program had to be established. In June 1934, he announced that he was preparing to "undertake the great task of furthering the security of the citizen and his family through social insurance."

Conservative Republicans seized on the word "social" and added an "ism," claiming that FDR was turning the nation toward socialism....

Conservatives screamed as Roosevelt cajoled Congress to enact the Social Security Act. They cried that the process was moving too quickly, that the legislation was too complex, that it would destroy private enterprise. But a Democratic House and Senate passed the bill and on Aug. 14, 1935, Roosevelt signed it. Conservatives filed lawsuits and promised to drive the Democrats from office and undo the Social Security Act....

Roosevelt was proven right with regard to Social Security in his time.

Roosevelt will be proven right with regard to national health care in our time....




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