Lawrence O'Donnell Slams Ronald Reagan: 'The Donald Trump of His Time'

Liberal MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday night slammed Ronald Reagan, sneering that he was the "Donald Trump of his time." O'Donnell asserted that, just like Trump and Sarah Palin, Reagan was a liar on subjects like Medicare. 

Comparing Reagan to Trump, O'Donnell insulted, "One of the loudest opponents of Medicare was actor Ronald Reagan, who was then the Donald Trump of his time, a celebrity with no governing experience and very forceful opinions about government." 

The MSNBC anchor included a clip of Reagan saying of Medicare: 

RONALD REAGAN:  First, you decide that the doctor can have so many patients, they're equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then the doctors are equally divided geographically. So, a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him, you can't live in that town, they already have enough doctors, you have to go someplace else. 

Reagan's warning of Medicare's dangers seems to have been prescient. According to the Washington Examiner: 

 As the AAF report noted, Medicare's revenue has fallen short of its spending in all but two of its 46 years since opening day in 1965.

The Medicare shortfall in 2013 was $289.2 billion. That includes a $45 billion shortfall for Medicare Part A (hospitals), $184 billion for Medicare Part B (doctors) and $59.8 billion for Medicare Part D (prescription drugs).

...

To put Medicare's financial crisis in further perspective, consider that the program's $289.2 billion shortfall in 2013 equalled 40 percent of the federal government's annual deficit.

A partial transcript is below: 

Last Word
7/30/15
10:20

O'DONNELL: Today is Medicare's birthday. It was 50 years ago today that Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law in 1965. One of the loudest opponents of Medicare was actor Ronald Reagan, who was then the Donald Trump of his time, a celebrity with no governing experience and very forceful opinions about government. Here is Ronald Reagan offering a heart-felt fact-free, totally false prediction of what would happen to doctors if Medicare became law.

RONALD REAGAN: First, you decide that the doctor can have so many patients, they're equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then the doctors are equally divided geographically. So, a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him, you can't live in that town, they already have enough doctors, you have to go someplace else. And from here, it's only a short step to dictating where he will go. This is a freedom that I wonder whether any of us have the right to take from any human being. I know how I'd feel if you, my fellow citizens decided to be an actor, I had to become a government employee and work in a national theater.

O'DONNELL: No one should think that Sarah Palin, a Ronald Reagan worshipper invented the trick of fantasizing about the contents of healthcare legislation. Sarah Palin's death panels are a direct descendant of Reagan's false claim that the government was going to say to a doctor, "you can't live in that town."

REAGAN: Once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man's working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here, it's a short step to all the rest of socialism to determining his pay, and pretty soon, your son won't decide when he's in school or where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he would go to work and what he would do.

O'DONNELL: Reagan's fantasies about what Medicare would do to America makes Sarah Palin's false attacks on Obamacare seem shy. There is Reagan telling America that if you allow Medicare to become law, the government would soon be telling all of us, every one of us where we can go to school, where we can live, exactly what we can do for a living. That was Reagan's promise about what Medicare would do to America.

REAGAN: And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country. Until one day as Norman Thomas said, we will awake to find that we have socialism, and if you don't do this and if I don't do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free.

O'DONNELL: Instead, Ronald Reagan spent his sunset years as president of the United States and never once attempted to repeal Medicare or reduce its scope in any way.
Reagan got one thing about Medicare right, it was and is socialism. What Reagan cannot comprehend is that there is good socialism and bad socialism and Medicare is very good socialism. And because we are all believers in good socialism now, the Republican chairman of the house committee with jurisdiction over Medicare, Paul Ryan. Who has publicly worshipped Ronald Reagan issued a statement about Medicare's birthday today that did not say that after 50 oppressive years of this socialism we should repeal it and repeal Obamacare while we're at it.
Instead, the ultra conservative but practical socialist chairman of the committee said, Medicare is a promise. It's a commitment to all Americans that if you work hard, you'll have the support you need when you retire. Ronald Reagan, the actor, would have attacked Paul Ryan for saying those words but Ronald Reagan the president became just as supportive of Medicare as all the socialists who voted for Medicare and all the socialists who voted for Ronald Reagan.
We're back with our panel, and Joy Reid, this is one of those moments, Medicare's birthday where it's time to pause and consider all of the crazy things candidates say on their way to getting these jobs in government.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And so as a fundamental sort of matter of conservative dogma, what Ronald Reagan said when he was actor Ronald Reagan is what, you know, the right professes to believe. But to your point, once they begin governing, they note the percentage of seniors who vote and it's very high. And seniors vote very specifically on things like Medicare and Social Security. So that even the tea party who profess to hate government turn around and say government hands off my Medicare. So that it becomes this third world of politics.

What's interesting though, is that you do have some of these politicians who even now are attempting to kind of make real and make manifest for the tea party this idea of getting rid of these government programs, rolling them back, scaling them back. Getting rid of them from the young. Marco Rubio has trot on that territory with privatization of Social Security, Paul Ryan as you mention has done it and Jeb Bush is doing it. So, it's interesting to see them do this, despite the fact that these older voters who are now more conservative than they were back then still love Medicare.

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