The Case for Health Reform

Dan Balz talks to Newt Gingrich who explains that some things are more important than short-term politics:

But former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich said Obama and the Democrats will regret their decision to push for comprehensive reform. Calling the bill “the most radical social experiment . . . in modern times,” Gingrich said: “They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years” with the enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

It’s true that Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society—Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Title I federal education spending, and a suite of other anti-poverty programs—played a roll in the unraveling of the New Deal coalition. At the same time, the Civil Rights Act has not been repealed. Nor has Medicare. Nor has Medicaid. Nor has the Voting Rights Act. Federal aid to education for the poor is more firmly entrenched than ever in the landscape. Some of the other Johnson-era anti-poverty programs have been repealed or substantially scaled back. But we’re overwhelmingly living in Lyndon Johnson’s America, whereas Barry Goldwater’s alternative vision of a backwards and brutal society in which the poor and elderly languish without health care and African-Americans eat at separate lunch counters is so discredited that Goldwater’s heirs and admirers generally refuse to admit that this is what he stood for.