Thursday, August 13, 2009

Helen Thomas: Obama Should Pull An LBJ & Make Single Payer Happen

Helen Thomas reminds us that if LBJ had been obsessed with the desire for Republicans to like him we never would have gotten Medicare. Helen says it's not too late for Obama to take a clue from LBJ and fight for single payer.

Read the full article, or excerpt:

I covered the battle to create the Medicare system back in the 1960s. The cries of "socialized medicine" worked for years until President Lyndon B. Johnson rammed Medicare through Congress in 1965.

Johnson signed the Medicare legislation on former President Harry Truman’s desk in Independence, Mo. Truman had first proposed a health care program for the elderly back in the 1950s. Truman, still feisty at age 81, was all smiles. I remember a newsman went up to Johnson and told him "my mother thanks you." Johnson turned to him and said: "You should thank me," meaning Medicare would help families with the increasingly heavy financial burden of caring for seniors.

President Barack Obama is making a big mistake by ignoring the single-payer proposal....In 2003 before he became a U.S. senator from Illinois, Obama actually called himself a single-payer "proponent." But now that he is president, Obama has buckled to Republicans and conservative Blue Dog Democrats in pursuit of consensus. My question is if Congress passes a watered-down version of health care that doesn’t truly cover everyone, is the result worth it?

The president has given no hearing to the advocates of a single-payer system and neither has the media. He also had worked out a deal with the drug manufacturers not to use the federal government’s massive bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices -- although now the White House appears to be having second thoughts. . . He still has time to do the right thing and nothing to lose.

via Alegre's Corner