As President Obama lays the groundwork for releasing his plan to reform the country's health-care system, Rush Limbaugh responds on cue with a pre-emptive attempt to undermine reform efforts with the tired smear of "socialized medicine." Just how tired? Very -- it is at least three-quarters of a century old. Media Matters found that as far back as the 1930s -- with respect to at least 16 different proposals -- conservatives have volleyed attacks on progressive efforts at health-care reform with the clichéd -- and false -- label of "socialized medicine."
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Rush Limbaugh claimed during his February 27 morning radio update that "[t]he Obama budget ... funds the relentless drive toward socialized medicine" -- a statement that is neither accurate nor original. In fact, as the Urban Institute wrote in an April 2008 analysis, "socialized medicine involves government financing and direct provision of health care services," and therefore, 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 -- conservatives have attempted to smear those proposals by calling them "socialized medicine" or a step toward that inevitable result.
These reform efforts include President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's consideration of government health insurance when crafting the 1935 Social Security bill; President Lyndon Johnson's 1965 amendment to the Social Security Act establishing Medicare; President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton's health-care initiative in 1993 and 1994; the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in 1997, as well as its 2007 reauthorization and 2009 expansion; Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's health-care proposals during the 2008 presidential campaign; health information technology provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; and health-care provisions included in President Obama's fiscal year 2010 budget blueprint.
Conservatives will undoubtedly persist in using the rhetoric of "socialized medicine" as the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress move forward with health-care reform. As The New York Times' Mark Leibovich reported in a February 28 Week in Review piece headlined " 'Socialism!' Boo, Hiss, Repeat," conservative commentator and Conservative Political Action Conference "celebrity" Bay Buchanan said that " '[s]ocialized medicine' was a great argument for us" in defeating the Clintons' health-care reform effort. Leibovich added that Buchanan "not[ed] that the term will surely gain even more of a hold when the Obama administration unveils its own health care proposal, probably sometime this year" [emphasis added]. The knee-jerk -- and false -- accusation once again poses a decision for the media: Will they simply repeat the charges without challenge, or will they undertake a considered analysis of its underpinnings and its accuracy? Recent indications are not favorable.
History is replete with examples of health-care reform opponents reflexively lobbing the charge "socialized medicine" at any and all progressive reform proposals:
Roosevelt's consideration of government health insurance when crafting the 1935 Social Security bill
- A January 3, 1935, New York Times article (purchase required), "Doctors in Debate on Social Medicine," reported that during a "discussion on the socialization of medicine," the editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Morris Fishbein, "attacked the general proposal of socialization" and "ridicul[ed] the Roosevelt administration's attempts to evolve a plan of socialized medicine." Fishbein also reportedly said that the "American Medical Association [AMA] was strongly opposed to any scheme for group practice and to health insurance ... because they are un-American."
- The New York Times reported in a February 16, 1935, article (purchase required), "Doctors Meet on 'Peril' in Security Plans; Illness Insurance Moves Stir Profession," that the AMA called a "special meeting" of its house of delegates due to "what some medical men have pronounced the most critical situation in the history of American medicine, brought about by President Roosevelt's social security program, and particularly by proposals of his advisers for compulsory insurance against the costs of sickness." The Times reported that the AMA asserted that "sickness-insurance plans ... are a step toward socialized medicine."
- The Harry S. Truman Library website states that "Truman's health proposals finally came to Congress in the form of a Social Security expansion bill, co-sponsored in Congress by Democratic senators Robert Wagner (N.Y.) and James Murray (Mont.), along with Representative John Dingell (D.-Mich). For this reason, the bill was known popularly as the W-M-D bill. The American Medical Association (AMA) launched a spirited attack against the bill, capitalizing on fears of Communism in the public mind. The AMA characterized the bill as 'socalized [sic] medicine', and in a forerunner to the rhetoric of the McCarthy era, called Truman White House staffers 'followers of the Moscow party line.' "
- In The Social Transformation of American Medicine, discussing Truman's health-care proposal in Senate hearings, Paul Starr writes: "Senator Murray, the committee chairman, asked that the health bill not be described as socialistic or communistic. Interrupting, Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, the senior Republican, declared, 'I considered it socialism. It is to my mind the most socialistic measure this Congress has ever had before it.' Taft suggested that compulsory health insurance, like the full employment act, came right out of the Soviet constitution." [Page 283]
- Starr further writes: "In May 1947 Senator Homer Ferguson accused the [Truman] administration of illicitly spending millions 'in behalf of a nationwide program of socialized medicine.' A House subcommittee investigating government propaganda for health insurance concluded that 'known Communists and fellow travelers within Federal agencies are at work diligently with Federal funds in furtherance of the Moscow party line.' " [Page 284]
- Starr also writes that after Truman won re-election in 1948, "the AMA thought armageddon had come. It assessed each of its members an additional $25 just to resist health insurance and hired [public relations firm] Whitaker and Baxter to mount a public relations campaign that cost $1.5 million in 1949, at that time the most expensive lobbying effort in American history. ... 'Would socialized medicine lead to socialization of other phases of American life?' asked one pamphlet, and it answered, 'Lenin thought so. He declared: "Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the Socialist state." ' (The Library of Congress could not locate this quotation in Lenin's writings.) So successful was the campaign in linking health insurance with socialism that even people who supported Truman's plan identified it as 'socialized medicine,' despite the administration's insistence it was not." [Page 284-285]
- An April 14, 1950, Washington Post article (purchase required), "Dewey Views Truman Plans As Dangerous," reported that New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey, a two-time Republican presidential nominee, said that the Truman administration's "compulsory health insurance plan" was " 'socialized medicine.' "
Kennedy's health-care reform proposal (the Anderson-King bill)
- In Social Security and Its Enemies: The Case for America's Most Efficient Insurance Program, Max J. Skidmore wrote that an AMA recording by Ronald Reagan, "Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine," was part of the organization's "brilliant effort to encourage opponents of the Anderson-King Bill to write to senators and representatives urging that they vote against the proposal." [Page 61] At the end of the recording, Reagan urged listeners to write to their congressional representative because otherwise, "we will awake to find that we have socialism." [Page 165]
- In a February 12, 1961, article (purchase required), "Fight Looms Over Medical Plan," about President John F. Kennedy's call for Congress "to set up a system of health insurance for the aged tied to Social Security," The New York Times reported, "One of the principal opposition arguments is that a Governmental system of health insurance opens the way for a form of socialized medicine."
- A May 13, 1962, New York Times article (purchase required), "Fight Over New Aged Plan Grows Hotter," reported that in opposing the Anderson-King bill, the AMA "had been fighting back with cries of 'socialized medicine.' " The report also stated: "Stepping up its own campaign, the A.M.A. has issued a twelve-page booklet entitled 'The Case Against Socialized Medicine.' "
Johnson's 1965 amendment to the Social Security Act establishing Medicare
- In a January 17, 1966 article (purchase required), "Insurers Ask What's Next in Medicare," The New York Times reported: "This discontent in the wake of the enactment of the Federal medicare program is not over the loss of at least part of the health-insurance business involving people over the age of 64. Rather, the insurance sellers are distressed at the thought that medicare has brought the nation a giant step closer to socialized medicine."
- Reagan delivered an October 27, 1964, speech, "A Time for Choosing," supporting Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater against Johnson, the incumbent. In the speech, Reagan said, "Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business." (The Greatest Speeches of Ronald Reagan; Page 3)
- An August 17, 1992, analysis in the St. Petersburg Times by Ellen Debenport, "Bush resists action, distrusts change," noted that George H.W. Bush "opposed Medicare in 1964 as 'socialized medicine.' "
- In a July 11, 1965, article on the passage of Medicare, "Now Medicare" (purchase required), The New York Times reported that "Medicare bills have been bouncing around Capitol Hill for years, but have run into strong opposition. The American Medical Association has lobbied against a Federal medical program on the ground it would be a step toward socialized medicine."
Clinton's 1992 campaign health-care proposal
- In a September 28, 1992, editorial (retrieved from the Nexis database), The Orange County Register wrote that then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton's health-care proposal "resembles long-standing plans by congressional Democrats to impose a version of socialized medicine in America."
- An August 5, 1992, New York Times article, "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Issues -- Health Care; G.O.P. Tries to Seize a Democratic Issue," reported that President George H.W. Bush "tried to paint as socialistic" Clinton's health-care proposals. The Times continued: "Accusing Mr. Clinton of advocating socialized medicine -- although he does not -- Kevin Moley, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, called elements of the Clinton plan 'oxymoronic, with the accent on the 'moronic.' "
- In an August 6, 1992, article, "Health care: Plenty of politics but few answers" (from Nexis), USA Today reported that "Bush maintains that Clinton is pushing socialized medicine." The article continued: "Clinton ... has a plan that isn't really, as critics charge, 'back door' national health insurance."
- In an October 18, 1992, article, "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: ISSUES -- Health Care; Bush and Clinton Aren't Saying It, But Health-Care Taxes Are Likely," The New York Times reported that "Mr. Clinton has modified his proposal to deflect Republican charges that he favors socialized medicine" and that "Republicans pummeled him as an advocate of ... socialized medicine."
The Clintons' 1993 health-care initiative
- On the December 16, 1993, edition (from Nexis) of Limbaugh's television show, Rush Limbaugh, which ran from 1992-1996, Limbaugh stated, "I don't have time to beat around the bush. The health-care plan as proposed by Mrs. Clinton is socialism. There's no soft way to peddle it. There is not other way to describe it."
- On the December 27, 1993, edition (from Nexis) of Rush Limbaugh, Limbaugh said of President Clinton's health-care plan, "People have to oppose this philosophically." He added, "You can't let the agenda be set by the administration because socialized medicine is not the solution."
- On the April 4, 1994, edition (from Nexis) of Rush Limbaugh, Limbaugh said of Clinton's plan, "this health-care plan is all about the destruction of the creation of wealth in America and the socialization of this country, and it won't work -- never has anywhere else -- and we're going to go to the mat here to see to it that they don't succeed."
- In a September 29, 1993, Washington Post column, "Socialized Medicine In America" (from Nexis), Robert J. Samuelson asserted, "We have arrived at socialized medicine in America. I do not report this as either a good or bad event but simply as something that has happened with hardly anyone realizing it. This is the first result -- and probably the most important -- of the national health care debate launched last week by President Clinton. Our politics and economy will never again be the same."
- An October 21, 2000, New York Times article, "For Mrs. Clinton, Health Plan Left Lessons and Questions," reported: "When Mrs. Clinton visited Congress in February 1993, Newt Gingrich, the Georgia Republican who was then minority whip, articulated the concerns that swamped the president's plan 19 months later. Mr. Gingrich said then that Mrs. Clinton's proposal looked like 'washed-over old-time bureaucratic liberalism, or centralized bureaucratic socialism.' "
- In a November 27, 1992, article (purchase required), "House Democrats Dust Off Long-Stymied Agendas," the Los Angeles Times reported that "[Rep. Carlos J.] Moorhead [(R-CA)] said he opposes Clinton's health care reform proposal as 'socialized medicine.' "
- A January 23, 1994, Washington Times article, "Dole calls for revival of Bentsen's health care plan" (from Nexis), reported that "former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp, in a well-received closing address to the RNC [Republican National Committee] yesterday, called Mr. Clinton's" health-care plan a " 'socialized medicine' proposal."
- In a February 20, 1994, article, "Old Republican Fissures Feel Strain as Health Care Debate Grows" (from Nexis), The Washington Post reported that Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) said of Clinton's health-care plan: "If we can't offer a viable alternative to socialized medicine, then we don't have any excuse for existence."
- In an October 20, 1994, article, "THE 1994 CAMPAIGN: PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR Struggle for the Senate; In Pennsylvania, Round 2 on Healt [sic]," The New York Times reported that then-Rep. Rick Santorum (R) "describes President Clinton's health proposal as 'socialized medicine' that the country repudiated."
Creation of SCHIP in 1997
- In a February 18, 1997, column for The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey, "GOP mustn't swallow bad medicine" (from Nexis), Tony Snow wrote that Republicans "must decide soon where they stand on the issue of socialized medicine," explaining that "President Clinton threw down the gauntlet in his State of the Union address, when he proposed guaranteeing health insurance for at least half of the 10 million American children who have none."
- In a July 23, 1997, column, "NEA Convention Delegates Gather to Gloat," Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly wrote that the National Education Association (NEA) was "confident that Congress will pass the Kennedy-Hatch KidCare bill, a first step toward the single-payer socialized medicine system that the NEA has endorsed for years."
- An August 26, 1997, Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, "THE TOBACCO BATTLE: Conservative man in middle" (from Nexis), noted that Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) "sponsored an increase in the cigarette tax by 43 cents a pack to fund health insurance for about 5 million poor children." The article quoted Bradley Keena, "spokesman for the archconservative activist group the Free Congress Foundation," saying of Kennedy: "He wants socialized medicine, and he's working with Hatch on a first step. This is not the old Hatch."
Gore's 2000 campaign health-care plan
- Appearing on the August 28, 2000, edition of CNN's Crossfire, then-Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) said: "And if you like socialized medicine, you will love this government bureaucracy under [then-Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee] Al Gore that will actually cost seniors who get $500 a year in prescription drugs right now -- it will end up costing seniors more money and take away control from those seniors."
- On the September 25, 2000, edition (from Nexis) of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity said: "And the other issue is Gore, $4.6 trillion -- the single largest expansion of government in American history, from universal preschool, now, to prescriptions to health care -- it is Socialism 101."
- Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter attacked Gore on the October 3, 2000, edition (from Nexis) of CNBC's Rivera Live, saying: "Yeah, but the point is what Gore says, 'No, we can't have an across-the-board tax cut, but we can have an attract -- across-the-board socialist health care plan.' "
2001 Patients Bill of Rights
- Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) wrote in an August 1, 2001, Health Care News article, "Bill of Rights ... or Federal Takeover of Medicine?": "Without question, the true goal of some in Congress is to create a system of socialized medicine. It's politically expedient to slap a 'patients' rights' label on legislation that simply leads us closer to a complete government takeover of medicine."
- In an August 2, 2001, speech on the House floor, Paul urged his colleagues to "reject the phony Patients' Bill of Rights. ... We don't have to continue down the path of socialized medical care, especially in America where free markets have provided so much for so many."
Kerry's 2004 campaign health-care plan
- On the September 9, 2004, edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host Joe Scarborough claimed that Sen. John Kerry (MA), the Democratic presidential nominee at the time, "wants to socialize medicine," adding: "John Kerry ain't no bargain. You add up all that he wants to do, with socializing medicine -- he's talking about universal health care, with adding 40,000 new troops. It's a lot bigger deficits" (from Nexis).
- On September 15, 2004, then-Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) released a statement attacking the "Kerry-Edwards health care plan," saying: "While they have been touting their move toward socialized medicine, Kerry and [then-Sen. John] Edwards [(D-NC), Kerry's running mate] have opposed serious reforms and improvements to the health care system throughout their careers."
MD's 2005 proposal requiring Wal-Mart to pay increased health benefits
- As Media Matters noted, Limbaugh stated on the May 20, 2005, edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show that proposed legislation in Maryland, which would have required Wal-Mart to choose between increasing health benefits for employees or paying more into the state's Medicaid program, is "a vestige of fascism." Limbaugh added, "[T]hey're legislating socialism at the Maryland legislature."
2007 SCHIP reauthorization
- During the October 16, 2007, broadcast of his radio show, discussing the debate over the reauthorization of SCHIP, Limbaugh stated that the media "have done everything they can to push this whole notion of socialized medicine, to rip the president as being heartless and cold and cruel to children. And yet -- see, this is why you gotta celebrate the new media, folks, and people like me."
- During a speech given for WPHT-AM Philadelphia on October 11, 2007, Limbaugh said of SCHIP, "It's an expansion. And it's a stealth mechanism to put the tentacles of socialized medicine even deeper into society."
- During the August 3, 2007, broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh stated that "the SCHIP program ... is a stealth maneuver by the Democrats to take us further down the road to nationalized, socialized medicine, which will be an abject failure." He added, "It will not be free. You may not be paying for it yourself, but you'll also suffer in the kind of coverage that you get and treatment that you get."
- An April 1, 2007, New York Times article, "Expanded Health Program for Children Causes Clash," reported: " 'The Children's Health Insurance Program has given Democrats a wide-open door for socialized medicine,' [Rep. Jack] Kingston [R-GA] said in an interview. But he added, 'The door was left open by Republicans, who were in the majority when we passed the original legislation in 1997.' "
- An August 2, 2007, New York Times article, "House Passes Children's Health Plan 225-204," reported that "Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas, said the bill embodied the Democrats' 'vision for the future: socialized medicine and Washington-run health care.' "
- A September 26, 2007, Washington Post article, "House Passes Children's Health Bill; Despite Strong Republican Support, Threatened Veto Will Probably Stand," reported that "Republicans attacked the bill on multiple fronts, saying it would move the nation toward 'socialized medicine.' "
- A September 28, 2007, New York Times article, "Senate Passes Children's Health Plan," noted that "Republican opponents of the bill, like Senators Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and John Cornyn of Texas, said it would be a big step toward socialized medicine."
- An October 3, 2007, Associated Press article, "Bush vetoes child health insurance plan," reported that "Bush argued that the congressional plan would be a move toward socialized medicine by expanding the program to higher-income families."
2008 campaign health-care proposals by Obama and Clinton
- On the January 25, 2008, edition of his morning radio update, Limbaugh cited a study showing that, in Limbaugh's words, "women will not get tested [for breast cancer] if they have to pay for it. He added, "Every liberal on the campaign trail has a plan to deliver free, socialized medicine, but no country on earth, folks, can possibly pay for every test for everybody without going bankrupt."
- Discussing a Rocky Mountain News editorial about a single-payer plan under consideration in Colorado, Limbaugh stated on his radio show of September 17, 2007 -- the day then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced her health-care proposal -- "I'm getting to the bottom line, is that you have the single payer proponents. Tying this to Mrs. Clinton, she's a single payer advocate. The government's going to be the single payer. It's going to be socialized medicine, national health care."
- A September 16, 2007, ABCNews.com article quoted Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney attacking Clinton's then-unannounced health-care policy at a campaign event in Iowa, saying: "The last thing we need is Hillarycare," and, "The last thing we need is socialized medicine."
- On the December 19, 2007, edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer interviewed Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani and said, "Quick couple of questions, and you can give me your honest answers, as you always do." Blitzer then asked Giuliani: "Has Hillary Clinton been a good senator for New York state?" After stating, "Not from my point of view," Giuliani falsely claimed that Clinton "want[s] to move toward mandated government medicine, socialized medicine."
- In a September 24, 2007, USA Today article, reporter Fredreka Schouten quoted Romney's charge that Clinton's health-care proposal is "a 'socialized medical plan.' "
- On September 18, 2007, USA Today's Richard Wolf reported: "Republicans criticized Clinton's plan as heavy-handed. Rudy Giuliani's campaign called it the 'Clinton-Moore plan' after filmmaker Michael Moore, whose film Sicko lambastes the U.S. health care system and lauds government-run programs in other countries. Mitt Romney called it 'a European-style socialized medicine plan.' "
- During the August 23, 2008, edition of Fox News' Cavuto on Business, guest Jonathan Hoenig, a regular panelist on Fox News' Cashin' In and managing member of Capitalistpig Asset Management LLC, falsely asserted that Obama and then-running mate Joe Biden "have made it very clear that they support socialized health care."
- In an October 6, 2008, National Review Online column headlined "Take This and Run: Ten things the McCain campaign needs to do to win," Lisa Schiffren described Obama's health-care proposal as "state health care," writing: "Ask why Barack Obama wants to make us all wards of the state, with state health care. Is this a good moment to embrace 20th Century Socialism Lite, even if we are facing a year or two of belt tightening? Shouldn't the future be freer, with less state interference in our lives?"
- A May 3, 2008, New York Times article, "Parsing McCain on the Democrats' Health Plans," noted that Sen. John McCain, then running for president, has repeatedly "inaccurately described the Democrats' health-care proposals, using language that evokes the specter of socialized medicine."
2009 SCHIP expansion
- A February 4 New York Times article, "Obama Signs Children's Health Insurance Bill," reported that "Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, denounced the bill as 'a foundation stone for socialized medicine.' "
- A January 30 Washington Times article, "Children's health bill clears Senate," reported that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said, "Democrats are making it clear that they intend to use our economic crisis to rush through their longtime liberal goals without public scrutiny or debate. ... This will increase burdens on taxpayers and take a significant step toward socialized medicine."
Health information technology provisions in 2009 economic recovery package
- On the February 10 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Megyn Kelly, speaking to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), cited Betsy McCaughey's Bloomberg commentary in claiming that the health information technology language in Obama's economic recovery package "sounds dangerously like socialized medicine."
- Radio host Martha Zoller, appearing on the February 15 edition of CNN Newsroom, claimed that her "biggest concern about socialized health care is a lot of those things are in the stimulus bill. There are a whole bunch of things in the stimulus bill relating to health care and it is about telling, especially older folks, that it's not going to be cost-effective to continue to treat them and Democrats have been scaring older folks for 15 years about Republicans taking away what they have."
- In a February 25 American Spectator column, "Repeal Health Care Fascism," Peter Ferrara, who served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, wrote that the stimulus bill funds "a bureaucratic structure for the government to begin rationing the health care of the American people." Ferrara counseled "Republicans and conservatives" to "sponsor a new bill of their own proposing to repeal the health care rationing provisions of the supposed stimulus bill. They can then lead a national, populist, grassroots movement to force Congress to pass the bill, and President Obama to sign it, educating the public along way about the intractable problems of socialized medicine."
Obama's 2010 budget blueprint
- During the February 27 edition of his morning radio update, Limbaugh mentioned the carbon cap-and-trade and tax provisions included in Obama's budget outline and stated, "The Obama budget also funds the relentless drive toward socialized medicine. And all that is just the beginning."
- In a February 26 statement "[r]eacting to President Obama's budget blueprint," Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) "vow[ed] to fight against socialized medicine," stating further: "On healthcare, I agree with the President that we need to get costs under control. I look forward to working with him by utilizing my 28 years of experience working with over 10,000 patients dealing with life altering conditions to accomplish that feat. I can also say without hesitation, that the quality of healthcare in this county is second to none -- and sacrificing quality to achieve these necessary reforms is not acceptable. A single payer, government run healthcare system is the worst possible way to achieve this goal."
- Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) released a statement on February 26 claiming that Obama's budget "will move us even further down the path to universal health care. We are treading dangerously close to bureaucratic intervention in the exam room and I will not support any measure that leads to socialized medicine."
- In a February 26 statement, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) said of Obama's budget: "One such troubling provision is a tax increase to pay for the $635 billion included in the budget for health care 'reserve funds.' Health care reform is desperately needed in America, but I'm concerned that $635 billion will be a down payment on socialized medicine, causing the impersonal rationing of health care and destroying the doctor-patient relationship."
From the December 16, 1993, edition of Limbaugh's television show, Rush Limbaugh (retrieved from the Nexis news database):
LIMBAUGH: All right. Let me just tell you something very quickly. I don't have time to beat around the bush. The health-care plan as proposed by Mrs. Clinton is socialism. There's no soft way to peddle it. There is not other way to describe it. The only way it'll "work" as drawn is if socialism -- now I use "work" in quotes because socialism doesn't work -- but the only chance this plan has is if it is under the -- the aegis of socialism. So make no mistake about it. I mean, it's taking one seventh of the American economy and transferring it to government control. That is socialism.
From the December 27, 1993, edition of Rush Limbaugh (from Nexis):
LIMBAUGH: People have to oppose this philosophically. You have to say, I don't want any part of this.' You can't let the agenda be set by the administration because socialized medicine is not the solution. The private sector -- the free market can do this better and more efficiently with more freedom and more choice for all of you. And there are plenty of great alternatives out there, and I think people are beginning to note and -- and -- and -- and become aware of this because of the polling data showing so little support for this as presented.
From the April 4, 1994, edition of Rush Limbaugh (from Nexis):
LIMBAUGH: The White House -- ah, here are the details, ladies and -- see, this is why you watch this show. This is buried in The Washington Post. We found it. Now the world will know. "The White House this week cut back the coverage for drug and alcohol treatment in its health-care plan to hold down costs." And th-- and -- and -- and critics then charged that this could undermine one of the principle goals of President Clinton's anti-drug strategy. And if you read the story further, they're also going to reduce health-care funding for the mentally ill.
Now, why do we show you this? We show you this because they'll say anything in the world to hook you. They'll paint the best picture of love, devotion, compassion and care -- why, it's a candy store, America. Go in and it's all free. Then when it comes down to the nutcracking time, it all seems to vanish and go away, and we're going to chronicle all of these discrepancies, from the promises to the reality, because this health-care plan is all about the destruction of the creation of wealth in America and the socialization of this country, and it won't work -- never has anywhere else -- and we're going to go to the mat here to see to it that they don't succeed.
From the May 20, 2005, broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: They [the Maryland General Assembly] are legislating socialism. This is the government -- in this case the state government -- telling a private business how it must run its affairs. Now, some might even call that a vestige of fascism. Some might say you're getting very close to fascism here when the government starts telling everybody in business -- at an increasing rate -- how they have to run their business, allocate funds, and so forth. And it's almost extortion to boot, because if Wal-Mart doesn't do what the legislature says -- then the legislature must -- then Wal-Mart must pay the legislature. So it's -- they're legislating socialism at the Maryland legislature.
From the September 17, 2007, broadcast (subscription required) of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: But the Rocky Mountain News says: "We've spelled out some of our objections to the single-payer plan in an earlier editorial, and we haven't changed our minds. But let's assume that this system indeed guaranteed medical coverage for every resident. And that its 15-member governing board, which will have 'constitutional powers to contain costs'..." Do you realize, constitutional powers to contain costs? "Let's assume that this single-payer plan actually did keep overall medical spending in check. Such fiscal discipline would come with an unacceptable price: dramatic compromises in the breadth and quality of care. Say the plan initially reduced overall medical expenses by the 11 percent Lewin suggests, by wringing out administrative inefficiencies and purchasing prescription drugs in bulk. After that, however, new costs pile up in a hurry. For one thing, single payer would immediately increase the number of Coloradans with guaranteed coverage by 19 percent." Are you losing me on this, Mr. Snerdley? You lost me the other day. You thought that I was reading a story written by Melinda Gates, and it wasn't.
What you are missing here? Well, I'm getting to the bottom line, is that you have the single payer proponents. Tying this to Mrs. Clinton, she's a single payer advocate. The government's going to be the single payer. It's going to be socialized medicine, national health care in Colorado, they're doing this, they're proposing four different ballot initiatives, and the people on the side of single payer out there obviously have a leg up because they're out there with all these stats saying, "Hey, it would have cost 4.7 less this year if we'd had had single payer." What this editorial is trying to say is, "Nope, it's going to add costs right off the bat," because, in the first place, bureaucracies never become efficient; they're never going to get rid of administrative costs; they're never going to reduce them. That's not the purpose of bureaucracies. It's to increase those things.
From the October 16, 2007, broadcast (subscription required) of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: As it is at present currently structured, the Graeme family [sic] was covered. The Graeme family is out there on television [makes whining noises], "[unintelligible] President Bush [unintelligible]." No. President Bush is not trying to deny coverage to people like the Graemes. And this other woman -- that little kid that they're -- the Democrats are now parading out -- also covered by the current structure of the SCHIPS [sic] program.
But I just -- I think this is fabulous news out here that -- the drive-bys have done everything they can to push this whole notion of socialized medicine, to rip the president as being heartless and cold and cruel to children. And yet -- see, this is why you gotta celebrate the new media, folks, and people like me, because, 20 years ago, this would have happened, and there wouldn't have been any opposition to it whatsoever, and you would not know the truth, and you would believe what the media is telling you -- well, some of you would. I mean, there's always been a sizable contingent of people out there that didn't trust the drive-by media.
From an October 11, 2007, "Rush to Excellence Speech for WPHT-AM Philadelphia" (subscription required):
LIMBAUGH: It's a matter of simple responsibility. But we're getting to the point of mob rule. You get to the point where 55 or 60 percent of the American people think that other people -- government, whoever -- should be buying their health care, it's essentially mob rule. And that's, you know, that's -- unless, if the elected representatives -- well, we know Mrs. Clinton wants to do this. SCHIP is her plan. It's an expansion. And it's a stealth mechanism to put the tentacles of socialized medicine even deeper into society. Under the expansion of SCHIP -- by the way, President Bush voted to expand it for 4 billion to include poor kids only. The Senate version, the House version, the Mrs. Clinton version, defines a child as anybody 25 years or younger. I'm not making this up.
From the August 3, 2007, broadcast (subscription required) of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: You have to establish priorities. If health care is the most important thing to you, then you gotta do -- regard -- wherever you are now, you've got to do with less. There are -- somewhere else. You're asking your neighbors to subsidize your insurance for your -- for health care. This program that you're talking about, the SCHIP program -- that's SCHIP with a P -- is a stealth maneuver by the Democrats to take us further down the road to nationalized, socialized medicine, which will be an abject failure. It will not be free. You may not be paying for it yourself, but you'll also suffer in the kind of coverage that you get and treatment that you get.
From the January 25, 2008, edition (subscription required) of "Rush's Morning Update":
LIMBAUGH: According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Brown and Harvard universities found that women will not get tested if they have to pay for it. You heard right: Breast cancer screening rates are dramatically lower when women have to contribute a co-payment.
We're not talking a lot of money here, folks. I mean, most insurance plans ask for a $20 co-pay. But even when the payment is as little as $12, there are significant drops in the number who get screened. So the researchers advocate the elimination of all co-payments. Of course.
Every liberal on the campaign trail has a plan to deliver free, socialized medicine, but no country on earth, folks, can possibly pay for every test for everybody without going bankrupt. Yet, as this study demonstrates, the entitlement mentality is so pervasive regarding health care that even 12 measly dollars is too high a price to save your life for people who are already insured. If it's not free, it's not worth it?
From the February 9 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: Everybody assumes that the Obama administration's health plan -- the health reform, the gigantic national socialization of medicine bill -- is going to be a standalone to come down the pike, and everybody's especially thinking now it's been delayed since the Puffster [Tom Daschle] pulled himself out of consideration at Health and Human Services for not paying taxes. That is not true. Betsy McCaughey has read the relevant portions of the stimulus bill. She's written about it in a commentary at Bloomberg.com, which we will link to at RushLimbaugh.com later this afternoon.
From the February 27 edition (subscription required) of "Rush's Morning Update":
LIMBAUGH: American companies that Democrats simply define as polluters will be forced into a cap-and-trade program, adding almost $1 trillion in taxes to their bottom lines. Small-business owners and people Democrats call "wealthy" will be slammed with new taxes as well. 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.