Johnson maneuvered every step of the way getting this bill through Congress, and one of the things he did — and this is a little dicey in today's climate — was suppress the costs. So this young kid gets elected from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, in 1962, and Johnson is explaining to him [over the phone] how you get a health bill through. And what he tells him is don't let them get the costs projected too far out because it will scare other people:"A health program yesterday runs $300 million, but the fools had to go to projecting it down the road five or six years, and when you project it the first year, it runs $900 million. Now I don't know whether I would approve $900 million second year or not. I might approve 450 or 500. But the first thing Dick Russell comes running in saying, 'My God, you've got a billion-dollar program for next year on health, therefore I'm against any of it now.' Do you follow me?"
We believe, after looking at the evidence, my co-author [David Blumenthal] and I, that if the true cost of Medicare had been known — if Johnson hadn't basically hidden them — the program would never have passed. America's second-most beloved program would never have happened, if we had had genuine cost estimates.
Ya got that? One of the most "beloved" entitlement programs in American history, which is headed into insolvency only passed because Johnson hid the actual cost of the program. And a host on NPR offers this as advice to President Obama in order to pass health care reform. You see, what Mr. Monroe calls "dicey" is known better by a different word: "deceit."
But do you get the bigger implication here? Medicare is the second-most beloved program in America and it would have gotten derailed if people had been scared off by the cost of it. And all of you fear-mongers trying to derail this health care reform just don't know what's best for you like we do. If only you'd shut up and let us pass this without your opposition, you'd get another giant entitlement program that everyone will love twenty or thirty years from now.
Except that there's this nagging fact about Medicare: it's going to be bankrupt because the money was mismanaged and the original cost was incorrectly predicted. But there's no reason to think that will happen in this case, is there?