2 months, 3 weeks ago from washingtonpost.com
“There is a chorus of naysayers out there in the Republican party. It’s a rich tradition they have. In 1936, when Franklin Roosevelt came up with Social Security, a Republican filibuster stopped FDR from funding the offices and personnel he needed to implement it. In addition to that, Alf Landon, the Republican candidate for president said, ‘My first act of office will be to abolish Social Security.’ ”
— Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sept. 16, 2013
In explaining why the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, continues to be unpopular with many Americans, Sen. Durbin cited the unrelenting attacks by Republicans. But then he ventured into some historical fantasy to illustrate what he called the GOP’s “rich tradition” of not accepting new social programs.
Let’s look at what really happened.
In contrast to the Affordable Care Act — which passed without a single Republican vote in either the Senate or the House — the passage of Social Security was quite bipartisan (in an era when Democrats enjoyed large majorities in both chambers.)
In the House, 284 Democrats and 81 Republicans supported the bill, compared to 15 Democrats and 15 Republicans who opposed it. In the Senate, 60 Democrats and 16 Republicans supported the bill, with just one Democrat and five Republicans opposed.
“Although Social Security was the initiative of a Democratic president, by the time the bill arrived on the floor of Congress a substantial bipartisan majority had developed in its favor,” says an official history of the Social Security administration. “It would be fair to say that at its inception Social Security was a bipartisan program, and has been so for most of its history.”
With that kind of support, why would Republicans filibuster the funding, as Durbin claims? Well, actually, they did not.