Did TR really back national health insurance as Obama claims? Yes.
"The problems we face today are a direct consequence of actions that we failed to take yesterday," Obama said, opening a health care conference in the East Room of the White House on March 5. "Since Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform nearly a century ago, we have talked and we have tinkered. We have tried and fallen short, we've stalled for time, and again we have failed to act because of Washington politics or industry lobbying."
We wondered whether Roosevelt really proposed reform on the scale of the near-universal health care Obama advocates, or if the new president was pushing the whole bipartisan-appeal thing a bit far.
We consulted two well-regarded biographers of Roosevelt, H.W. Brands and Kathleen Dalton. Both confirmed that in 1912, when the former Republican president was running as a Progressive Party candidate for what would have been his third term (after a four-year break), the party advocated national health insurance in its platform .
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Robert Lee Gaston - 11/6/2009
The Socialists accepted it instead of democratic reform. And the rest is history.
Tim Matthewson - 7/27/2009
Most liberals would probable answer FDR or the Populists or the Progressives. But they would be wrong. The Welfare State first emerged in Germany under the leadership of the Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismark. He conferred with the Socialist Party leader in Germany Ferdnand Lasalle and asked him what the workers wanted. Lasalle outlined a number of programs such as medical care, unemployment insurance, and the like, programs that amounted to the Welfare State. And in the following years, Bismark and German Conservatives implements said programs, leaving Bismark with the credit for the invention of the Welfare State.
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