MYTH 12: Obama, Dems pushing "socialized medicine"
CLAIM: Health care reform proposals are socialist and will lead to socialized medicine.
- GLENN BECK: "President Obama has his massive $1.5 trillion health care plan. It's hogging up the news cycle. The Republicans and, you know, a lot of people are starting to say, 'Isn't this socialist here? I mean, this is pretty crazy.' The answer to me on that one is really easy: Yep, it's good old socialism. You know, pretty much raping the pocketbooks of the rich to give to the poor. I think that's socialism." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 7/21/09]
- LIMBAUGH: "The Obama budget also funds the relentless drive toward socialized medicine. And all that is just the beginning. The way to look at this budget is not with an economic lens, it is with a philosophical one. Liberals want to make America -- remake it in their image. And this is how you will pay for it." ["Rush's Morning Update," 2/27/09]
- Guest-hosting The O'Reilly Factor, Laura Ingraham stated: "Powerful arguments against socialized medicine have been around not for months, but for decades. Ronald Reagan was saying this back in 1961." After playing a clip from Reagan's recording, Ingraham added, "I have to believe that Ronald Reagan is smiling down on these town hall forums where law abiding and hard-working Americans are standing up for freedom." [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 8/14/09]
REALITY: Conservatives have trotted out "socialized medicine" smear for 75 years -- and it's never been true. Numerous conservative media figures have revived the "socialized medicine" smear to undermine the efforts of Obama and congressional Democrats, most recently by promoting Ronald Reagan's 1961 attacks on a legislative precursor to Medicare. But as the Urban Institute wrote in an April 2008 analysis, "socialized medicine involves government financing and direct provision of health care services," and therefore, recent progressive health-care reform proposals do not "fit this description." The analysis also noted: "Similar rhetoric was used to defeat national health care reform proposals in the 1990s and, with less success, to argue against the creation of Medicare in the 1960s."
Indeed, a Media Matters for America analysis found that dating as far back as the 1930s -- with respect to at least 16 different reform initiatives including President Franklin D. Roosevelt's consideration of government health insurance when crafting the 1935 Social Security bill; President Lyndon Johnson's 1965 legislation establishing Medicare; and the health-care initiative by President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton in 1993 and 1994 -- conservatives have attempted to smear those proposals by calling them "socialized medicine" or a step toward that purportedly inevitable result.
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