From Our Future
Donald Trump's latest cabinet pick endangers the health and well-being of millions of Americans. From tax cuts to surgeons' income, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia -- Trump's choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services -- has repeatedly fought for the wealthy and privileged at the expense of ordinary Americans.
As a trained physician, Price is supposedly bound by the Hippocratic oath: "First, do no harm." Unfortunately, he'll soon be in a position to do a great deal of harm -- and his widely publicized desire to gut Medicare is only part of the problem.
Self-Serving Hard-Right Rhetoric
The New York Times, along with other news outlets, reported that Price's policy positions are "often aligned with the positions of the American Medical Association and the Medical Association of Georgia."
That places him in an old, if hardly illustrious, tradition.
In 1939 the AMA'S executive director wrote an editorial declaring that "all forms of security, compulsory security, even against old age and unemployment ... represent a taking away of individual responsibility, a weakening of national caliber, a definite step toward either communism or totalitarianism."
The editorial's floridly self-serving language used phrases like "peasant medicine" and "medical Soviets" to describe programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Nor did the AMA's far-right proselytizing end with the New Deal. In the early 1960s it hired a fading actor named Ronald Reagan to cut a record entitled "Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine," which was sent to AMA "ladies' auxiliaries" (assumed to be doctors' wives, rather than doctors themselves).
The "ladies" were instructed to "put on the coffeepot," play the record, and then bring out stationery so their friends could pen anti-Medicare letters to Congress.
The recorded Reagan warned that Medicare was "socialized medicine" and intoned that, should it pass, "one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free."
That campaign, "Operation Coffee Cup," was an early example of the viral marketing -- and fake news -- that brought us President Trump. The record failed to derail Medicare, but launched Reagan's political career.
When it comes to extremist AMA rhetoric, Tom Price is partying like it's 1939. He argued that the Affordable Care Act "removes the very freedom and liberty that our founders fought for at its very core," said that its treatment of doctors represents the "subjugation of " a formerly free citizen," and claimed that it creates "a system where Washington decides what you can get, what kind of treatment you can get for yourself and for your family."
Added Price, in words that would not have seemed out of place in that Depression-era editorial:
"That's not America, that's not the America that you and I love, that's not the America our founders fought for, that's not the America that recognizes that our liberty and our freedom comes from God almighty and not from the federal government."