Matt Miller - The Archives

Deja vu on Obamacare
The Washington Post, October 30, 2013

Voiceover: It's December 1, 1936—in the Crossfire tonight—Americans begin signing up for FDR's new "Social Security" program—but can the post office handle the volume? And is it essential protection for seniors—or the slippery slope to socialism? In the Crossfire—Frances Perkins, secretary of labor, who supports the program—and congressman Daniel Reed, Republican of New York, who opposes it.

Good evening, I'm Upton Sinclair, on the left.

Sinclair: After 18 months of planning, President Roosevelt's breakthrough Social Security program to ease poverty among senior citizens recently began its rollout, with application forms sent to post offices across the country—and with employers forced to register as well. Freddy, I think it's a milestone for a civilized nation. After all, two dozen countries already have systems of social insurance on the books. And the whole idea was invented by a conservative, Otto von Bismarck, back in the '80s as a shrewd way to assure social peace. Can't you concede that morality, not to mention the survival instincts of the ruling class, requires a decent society to offer something like Bismarckcare to protect against destitution in old age?

Hayek: Spoken like a communist out to weigh the economy down, Up. Don't you lefties see that your taxing and spending will put us on the road to serfdom?

Sinclair: Catchy phrase, Fred—might want to hold onto that for a book at some point. Let's bring in our guests. Congressman Reed, here's what you said about Social Security during the House debate over the legislation: "The lash of the dictator will be felt, and 25 million free American citizens will for the first time submit themselves to a fingerprint test." One of your Senate colleagues said the new program would "end the progress of a great country and bring its people to the level of the average European."

Not that there's anything wrong with the average European. But isn't this rhetoric a bit over the top?

Reed: Not at all, Upton. This is simply the reality. As another Republican in our caucus says, "Never in the history of the world has a measure been .