2004-09 Ronald Reagan's Effort to Prevent the Enactment of Medicare

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Reagan was notorious for taking a real event and transforming it into a mythical story, which he then repeated over and over, making of it an archetype for some political principle he held. When a welfare recipient in Chicago was publicly exposed in 1977 for having defrauded state welfare programs out of $8,000 by using two identities, Reagan transformed the news report into a story regarding a "welfare queen" who drove a Cadillac and who collected an annual tax-free income of $150,000 by using "eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and . . . collecting veterans' benefits on four nonexisting deceased husbands." Reagan repeated this story of the Chicago welfare queen multiple times over the years, growing it like some kind of political fish-story with each re-telling. In the end, it seems clear that he could not distinguish his own mythical version from the historical one.

Ronald Reagan may have crystallized, iRonald Reagan may have crystallized, in the minds of Republican strategists, the political ability of popular myth to be more powerful than the truth – as exemplified by his well-documented history of working against social programs (Medicare, Social Security) while convincingly denying it in debates with Jimmy Carter.Jimmy Carter. +
Operation Coffeecup: Ronald Reagan's Effort to Prevent the Enactment of Medicare +
Ronald Reagan’s Effort to Prevent the Enactment of Medicare +
September 2004 +
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