Not to belabor a point, but there once was such a thing as bi-partisanship back in the dark ages of our political history. When this ABC News Weekend program Issues and Answers from January 1962 featured House Majority Leader Carl Albert and House Minority Leader Charles Halleck, the panel of interviewers remarked how much of a love-fest it was between the two of them. Beyond the borderline hand-holding, it was a downright civilized exchange between two opposing members of Congress. Take this exchange regarding Social Security and Medicare:
Carl Albert: “The President has recommended that we expand the Social Security program to include medical, certain type of medical care. This, I think is a natural growth. I think the Social Security system which began modestly, and is come on to be a very important part of our whole retirement program, has worked well. I think it’s a natural extension. We have operated for many years now a Social Security system under which we have old-age insurance and we have old-age assistance for the needy – the two have been reciprocal. They’ve worked well. I can’t see why we can’t have a similar thing with respect to hospital and nursing benefits under the Social Security Plan, and a system similar to the old-age assistance plan as contemplated by the Kerr-Mills amendments last year. It seems to me this is logical, it’s natural. It has no element of control of the medical professions and if it did I’d be against it. It is a natural extenstion.”
Charlie Halleck: “Well, I want to say one thing first of all as the Republican leader in the House; we’re not unmindful of the medical needs of older people. Under the leadership of President Eisenhower, a Democratic controlled Congress. Senator Kerr of Oklahoma and Senator Wilbur Mills of Arkansas passed the Kerr-Mills Bill to provide medical attention. It is a matter of record that both John McCormick of Massaschusets, our new Speaker and my good friend here (Carl Albert) voted for it . . .”
Albert: “Certainly . . .”
Halleck: “And there were only twenty-three votes against it. Now then, I’m led to inquire would that proposition, that legislation be repealed? Actually, in my opinion, the approach that is now proposed is highly discriminatory. There are two million . . uh, two and a quarter million people on old-age assistance over sixty-five years of age. Only six hundred thousand of those, Carl would come under this program.”
You can tell me to shut up now, but I haven't heard this kind of exchange in a good forty years.
Oh well . . .