Health Care Reform and History

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California holds the gavel used to pass Medicare reform as she walks across the street and into the U.S. Capitol as the House prepares to vote on health care reform on Sunday, March 21, 2010. Walking with Pelosi, from left, are Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Rep. John Larson, D-Conn. (AP)

And so it’s done — in the House. Health care reform, the dream of presidents going back to Harry Truman and beyond, is headed for reconciliation and the desk of President Barack Obama.

Republicans call it a nightmare. Supporters call it history-making — in the tradition of Social Security and Medicare. By any measure, it is a rare moment of large-scale reform.

Social legislation is never a cakewalk in this country. As the gavel echoes today on health care reform, we’ll look at how this push compared to those that came before.

This hour, On Point: we’re taking the long view on reform.


Joining us from Washington is Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for Time magazine.

With us in our studio is Bruce Schulman, professor of 20th-century U.S. history at Boston University and author of, among other books, “Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism.”

From Jackson, Miss., we’re joined by Robert McElvaine, professor of arts & letters and chair of the history department at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. He’s the author of “The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941.”

And from Hanover, N.H., is Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic.

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