The Blog of the Frances Perkins Center

1935, 1965, 2010 — a nation accepts its responsibilities

In Legislation, Legislation Today on March 23, 2010 at 12:18 pm

The Social Security Act was passed in 1935; Medicare in 1965. Today we celebrate the signing of the next step that will greatly improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Obama signs the health care bill

Click on the picture to watch the ceremony.

Although Frances Perkins and FDR wanted to include national health care in the Social Security Act, it has taken 75 years to get some form of health care for all enacted in the U.S. Medicare transformed life for America’s seniors but didn’t cover those not in that category. While some may be unhappy with the limits of the new legislation–it’s not “Medicare for All”–it is an important step forward, for several reasons.

Robert Reich, in his essay, How healthcare reform makes history, says it very well:

This isn’t a return to the New Deal or the Great Society. It’s an incremental step forward, with big implications.

The significance of Obama’s health legislation is more political than substantive. For the first time since Ronald Reagan told America government is the problem, Obama’s health bill reasserts that government can provide a major solution. In political terms, that’s a very big deal.

For the first time since Ronald Reagan told America government is the problem, Obama’s health bill reasserts that government can provide a major solution. In political terms, that’s a very big deal.

We will not return to the New Deal or the Great Society, but nor will we continue to wallow in the increasingly obsolete Reagan view that we don’t need a strong and competent government. Yesterday’s vote confirms our hope that we can have both strength and competence in Washington. It is an audacious hope, but we have no choice.

Here is a great quote from Obama’s speech: “We are not a nation that scales back its aspirations… We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities.”

Frances Perkins would applaud that sentiment.

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