Obamacare fight vs. birth of social security: Which was uglier?

CNBC - They said one program would end freedom in America, and worried that another was akin to socialism...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

They said one program would end freedom in America, and worried that another was akin to socialism.

No, we’re not talking about aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

If you think politicians up in arms about the upcoming launch of Obamacare, you must not be old enough to remember the name-calling and dire predictions that predicated the introduction of two other major legislative milestones: Medicare and Social Security.

“There is a history around these government programs of controversy, of fear, of partisan division and ideological debates,” said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy and management at the University of North Carolina.

Of course, both Social Security and Medicare were enacted despite such opposition – and in both cases, experts say they quickly became quite popular and have stayed that way.

“We’ve been through this before, and in some ways that’s comforting because Medicare and Social Security turned out OK,” Oberlander said.

But although the rhetoric around Social Security and Medicare was dire, experts say it was not nearly as venomous as the current fight over Obamacare, which has included an all-night speech replete with references to Nazism and the first government shutdown in almost two decades.

President Obama has gone so far as to make fun of some of the harshest criticism.

“The current debate is an order of magnitude more intense, dishonest and verging on indictable than was the case with either of those programs,” said Henry Aaron, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution and an expert on health care financing.

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