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.