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Flashback: FDR and Johnson Got Republican Votes

4:12 PM, Aug 20, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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The president whined today on Michael Smerconish's show:

You know, passing a big bill like this is always messy. FDR was called a socialist when he passed Social Security. JFK and Lyndon Johnson, they were both accused of a government takeover of health care when they passed Medicare. This is the process that we go through -- because, understandably, the American people have a long tradition of being suspicious of government, until the government actually does something that helps them, and then they don't want anybody messing with whatever gets set up.

President Obama might not be aware of this but FDR passed Social Security with massive Republican support -- 81 Republicans voted in favor of the measure in the House and only 15 against while 16 Republicans voted in favor in the Senate and just 5 against. Johnson's Medicare package was only marginally more contentious. Just 13 Republicans voted in favor of Medicare in the Senate to 17 against, but in the House, more Republicans (70) voted for Johnson's Medicare plan than against (68).

Maybe President Obama should stop wee-weeing and start trying to get some Republican support for his bill -- as both Johnson and FDR successfully did. Getting a bill like this is not, in fact, always messy. Rather, there is clearly something particular about Obama's approach that has created this mess.