• I don’t think that quote means what Liz Cheney thinks it means

    Jon Chait beat me to this. I don’t care. I’ve have a ridiculously busy morning, and I want to point it out, too.

    Liz Cheney has an op-ed in the WSJ today on how if Republicans don’t act, and soon, to fight President Obama’s agenda (and Obamacare!), it will soon be too late to save America. She starts with a stirring quote from Ronald Reagan in 1961:

    Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.

    Pretty persuasive stuff. That is, if you don’t know of the history of that quotation. Reagan, was of course, warning people against the passage of Medicare. It’s part of a recording he made for the AMA. Here it is:

    Yes, Medicare was the death of freedom in 1961. It was tyrrany. It was the end of America.

    Last I checked, Medicare passed, and America is still here. Now it’s Obamacare that will kill freedom, enact tyranny, and end America.

    At what point do people who use such hyperbolic rhetoric stop and recognize that their dire warnings never come to pass? One would imagine that people who repeated Reagan’s talking points back in 1961 might find it a bit humbling to see how wrong they were. You’d think they’d shy from repeating those arguments again.

    But, no. They get op-ed space on the WSJ. For the record, this hypocrisy isn’t new. Other politicians have used Reagan’s words in their work as the “protectors of Medicare“.


    • Without Medicare, we wouldn’t have gotten Obamacare. How much are we spending in entitlements again? Isn’t it the Entitlements that are killing the economy and have us in the red…

      Seems to me that Reagan was deal on about the Federal governments desire for mission creep.

    • “Last I checked, Medicare passed, and America is still here.”

      “At what point do people who use such hyperbolic rhetoric stop and recognize that their dire warnings never come to pass?”

      Conservatives would say the same thing about global warming.

      To that point I’m not sure how you reconcile your position here with the fact that Medicare/Medicaid is the primary driver of our country’s long term financial (in)security, which is a threat to our freedom. The ACA alone will only exsaperate our problems. It does nothing to attack prices and encourage cost effective innovations.

      • Oh, come on!
        If we just stopped fighting stupid, unwinnable wars we’d have a ton of money, plenty to fund all existing and quite a few new entitlements.

        And what will make America safer? Health care ensured for all citizens or propping up Karzai in Afghanistan? And if you choose Afghanistan, please calculate an individual’s risk of dying in the next 9/11 versus having a heart attack.

        • One quibble:
          Oh, come on!
          If we just stopped fighting stupid, unwinnable wars

          The actual wars ended in weeks the rest were/are nation/democracy building projects.

      • “To that point I’m not sure how you reconcile your position here with the fact that Medicare/Medicaid is the primary driver of our country’s long term financial (in)security, which is a threat to our freedom.”

        You’re still ignoring the evidence. We in Canada have what is essentially Medicare/Medicaid for everyone in the country. And we don’t have nearly the economic/financial problems that the US currently does.

        In fact, Canada recently agreed to pick up the entire >$1 billion cost of a new bridge between Michigan and Ontario, including Michigan’s $550 million portion. (A form of foreign aid?) For all our socialized medicine, Canada seems to be doing just fine.

        Of course, the real reason for the bridge is to improve the prospects of private industry, in both Michigan and Ontario. Strangely, similar to roads and other infrastructure, that seems to be something that governments are quite good at.

    • The WSJ doesn’t have cartoons; the op-ed and editorial pages serve that function. Looks like Liz Cheney wrote a good one.

    • Reagan missed his calling as a comedian — the only thing missing from his speech was Kang and Kodos. I especially liked the part at about 9:00 minutes in where he is telling his audience what they believe.

      ‘Course the bigger irony is than in Canada, with a socialized health *insurance* scheme, but patients and doctors have a great deal more “freedom” than many in the US.

      (And I snickered at the dated sexism where “men are free” but women, I suppose, were still chattels.)

    • @SAO: Can you tell us precisely how much money these cuts of the military would provide and specifically what would be cut to meet that dollar amount?

      I’m not against any cuts and not happy with our foreign policy, but I want to know how cuts in the military would solve our economic problems enough so that we could add “quite a few new entitlements”.

    • We spend 711B$ on the military each year. That’s nearly 5 times more than China, the next biggest spender. It’s more than 3 times Russia and China combined. Let’s not forget that the world’s top military spenders include NATO members UK, France, and Germany. So, easily we could cut 2/3 of military spending and still outspend Russia and China combined. That would cut $474B. That’s just a little less than the entire Medicare budget for 2012. If we cut military spending by $555B (the cost of Medicare), the combined budgets of the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan would be 3 times China’s budget.

      The trick is, rather than looking at the defense budget for something easy to trim, you have to hack it with an axe. Frankly, I think we’d all be a hell of a lot safer if starting a war took a huge sacrifice from Americans.

      • We actually spend a lot more than that on defense. You should add in the Dept of Homeland Security and the expenses for maintaining our nukes, largely carried in the energy department.


      • SAO, I’m not interested in discussing military costs since healthcare is the topic, but if people are being deluded into believing cuts in the military would pay for healthcare and social services then they are going down the wrong road and eventually that road will lead to the poor and sick being most hurt when the bills have to be paid. One has to keep their eye on the ball and not in fantasyland. We need a military that will keep us safe and we need to pay our military fair wages and not the wages the Chinese are paid. Thus our expenditures will for the foreseeable future be far greater than the Chinese and perhaps our obligations will be greater than the rest of the world. With these things in mind we have to consider budgets so why don’t you answer the question asked by another unless you are considering a draft where soldiers have to do their job’s with little or no pay or benefits.

        • We can be safe with decent pay for soldiers with a defense budget that is smaller than today’s by the sum of Medicare’s budget, which is a big entitlement. And let’s not forget the massive corruption in the Chinese system. My bet is a quarter to a half of their military budget evaporates.

          We have the most powerful military in the world and Iraq and Afghanistan are still basket cases. Those wars destroyed the US’s standing with the Islamic world and made us a bunch of enemies. It didn’t make us safer.

      • Yes I think cutting defense it in half would be net good.

    • There is no cost to hyperbole in politics. That makes knowledgeable people frustrated. Maybe if the Feds run out of ability to borrow we will get some rational policy until then all we can do is try to educate the voters and float new ideas.

    • Here is my non hyperbolic statementon ACA:

      ACA will not ruin the country financially or make medical much worse but it will not significantly improve health or reduce spending significantly, that despite the the fact that other developed countries with socialized medicine spend much less on medical care and have lower infant mortality and greater longevity.

    • SAO, you draw a lot of conclusions, but don’t seem to specify the details. Medicare alone is ~$500Billion. How much money will you take from the military and specifically where will the money come from? The military budget is less than $700Billion. We could fire most of the army and let them roam the streets unemployed and leave ourselves in a bad military position encouraging other nations militaristic activities.

      This is an important issue because the entitlements are dependent upon a limited amount of money the government has to spend. I think some money can be removed from the military, but not enough to pay for the increased rate of spending for entitlements. If we remove money from the private sector we have to recognize that the removal will depress future earnings and that will mean we have less to spend.