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January 16, 2008

Joining The Great Society

Norman M. Covert

Whether one likes it or not, this is the moment when the reality of socialism strikes my generation in the face. We cannot avoid it. All manner of protestations about the rightness of conservative values cannot compete with the reality of Big Government – and truly this is not George Bush’s fault.

My acceptance of at least a piece of American Socialism came when the mailperson delivered a nondescript, brown envelope in the slot the first week of November. It contained a red, white and blue card, probably 50-pound card stock.

It was attached to a two-part mail-in form saying if I didn’t want Part B the entire card must be returned, indicating my preference to opt out of this part of our National Socialist Healthcare system.

I said to myself, “What to do?” My current health care plan has been faithful through decades of bacterial and viral infections, routine checkups, holiday emergency room visits, routine and at least one child’s critical care surgical procedure.

The past five years I’ve used up any good will with my health care provider maxing out on cardiac surgeries, ER visits, transports to Washington Hospital Center, with perhaps just one more procedure to go in February, that magic month when The Socialist Security Administration officially kicks in my “benefit.”

The whole thing is so confusing. Part A is the hospitalization; the second is supposedly the routine medical care stuff. The way I read it, Part A is “free,” even though I started paying it out of my federal employees pay check in 1983, a concession to help feed more money into the Medicare/Medicaid pool.

Part B cost $93.50 in 2007, in February $96.50 (wouldn’t you know it) will be deducted from the Socialist Security monthly retirement stipend for those who worked at least 40 quarters and paid into that pool of cash. A wonderment of this socialist entitlement is that lots of people who didn’t work 40 quarters also find a way to tap the dole each month.

After some conversations with recipients, reading the literature, querying the cyber sources, but mostly my Certified Nurse Practitioner, I kept the card with both Parts. I’ll let my first use of the card be getting a new wire for my Guidant/Boston Scientific pacemaker.

Medicare was a part of the sweeping social reforms legislated in 1965 by the 89th Congress. It is probably the envy of current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., UT).

The 89th Congress was exactly what Congressman Pelosi and Senator Reid thought they could be with the twin majorities in January 2007. Sorry, but incompetent leadership and partisan witch hunts doomed the first session of the 110th Congress. The second session doesn’t portend better days for the majority Democrats.

It was a Blue World on the national political map in 1965. The Senate was run by Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D., MT) who had a 68-32 majority. House Speaker John McCormack (D., MA) ruled his domain with a 295-140 advantage. President Lyndon B. Johnson, a hard-charging Democrat veteran of the Halls of Congress, knew how to wield his legislative sword to build his “Great Society.” It was Nirvana.

The Republican delegation was led by Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirkson (R., IL) with Rep. Gerald R. Ford (R., MI) struggling to keep up with their liberal rulers.

It is worth noting that Maryland was represented by Sen. Joseph D. Tydings (D), a Towson lawyer, who served one term (1965-71) and was defeated for re-election. Also carrying the Maryland banner was Sen. Daniel B. Brewster (D), also a one-termer (1963-69) defeated in his re-election bid.

It is interesting that Senator Tydings brought notoriety to the state. He was indicted in 1969 for taking bribes while a U.S. Senator, finally pleading no contest in 1975. The ethics issue continues to be an issue for our elected representatives, Democrat and Republican. There also is something about the attraction of bribes and Maryland politicians.

The 89th Congress pulled out all the stops, sending over sweeping social and environmental legislation that pleased the heart of every raging liberal. President Johnson signed:

The Elementary and Secondary Education Bill Social Security Act of 1965 (including Medicare and Medicaid) The Immigration Act Higher Education Act Freedom of Information Act

There were good parts and necessary pieces in each of the acts, but today we are reaping the whirlwind of costs that have far exceeded the original estimates. They created federal agencies, which we have been able to neither regulate nor maintain funding.

At this point, I don’t want to hear the all-knowing, all-seeing Wizard of Socialist Security (“ignore that man behind the screen!”) tell me the system is near bankruptcy. Just don’t let it go broke before I’ve used MY health-care benefit which forces me to maintain my Federal Health Insurance Benefit (there’s that word again) to supplement what Medicare won’t pay.

What a wonderful thing this Socialism. They can’t even afford to laminate the card.

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