Already some in the Republican Party have backtracked from de-funding Obamacare to attempting to delay repealing the individual mandate. Sen. Bob Corker last night issued an amendment to bump the timeline for repeal. Sen. Lamar Alexander has urged a gradualist form of repeal. Others, however, Ted Cruz, Eric Cantor, and Rand Paul, and most importantly, Paul Ryan, are attempting president-elect Donald Trump to immediately jettison Obamacare. In this, they are honoring Ronald Reagan’s own arguments against socialized medicine. In a sense, they are being more realistic than their colleagues. For the longer Obamacare stays in place, the more recipients will remain addicted to it. Only by an immediate repeal will people be weaned off of government. In this, they are emulating Ronald Reagan.
In a 1961 LP, Reagan eerily gave the same arguments against socialized medicine and the threat it posed to individual liberty. For Reagan, the reality of socialized medicine was the first irreversible step in enslaving America. It had the capacity to spread to other areas of civil liberties. If such schemes “supplanted private savings,” he stated, “pretty soon your son won’t decide when he’s in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him.”
Reagan painted socialized medicine as requiring the same kind of stealth campaign to socialize the country that is part of this White House’s playbook:
“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project, most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.”
Liberals predictably attacked Reagan for being “an enemy of social progress.” But Reagan wasn’t a beltway Republican eager to cut deals; instead, he was a principled conservative who refused to play the liberal’s game, when he dismissed such labels as “pure demagoguery.”
For Republicans today, Reagan has provided a usable history. And the context is much more amenable to such a stand than in 1961 when the New Deal was a given and popularly supported. Today, the Republicans have not only public support but also the sinister example of liberal behavior to pass this legislation. Liberals passed the bill–unread by many Democrats– with parliamentary gymnastics that required only 51 one votes in the Senate and was administered in the dead of night. Now the government is in charge of one-third of the economy.
Such material is a gift dropped in the lap of Republicans, and proof that socialism has masqueraded under the guise of liberalism.
So far only the young Turks of the Republican party have followed the same thrust as Reagan. But for the McCains and Grahams, they are behaving as if they are in 1961 and they are not on Reagan’s side.
It’s up to them to bring back the spirit of Reagan in a time when he is sorely needed to remind that Republicans of a threat to liberty already in existence