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Omnia pro aegroto

Confessions of Madame Perkins:
a Prelude to Medicare and the Clinton Health Care Task Force

Testimony before the U.S. Congress
by Thomas G. Dorrity, M.D., President of AAPS

Congressional Record, Nov. 11, 1971.

AAPS WAS ORGANIZED to maintain the highest ethical integrity of the medical profession, to protect the responsibility, independence, and freedom of patients and doctors, particularly from encroachment upon their liberty by government...It does not seek any subsidy of any kind from the federal government. All we want is to be left alone to exercise our best judgment and skill for the benefit of our patients.

Mr. Roosevelt knew that the Federal Government did not have Constitutional authority to interfere in social welfare problems and said so quite effectively before becoming President of the United States. The Founders clearly did not intend to grant such authority to the Federal Government, as shown in the Federalist papers and other writings.

Social Security legislation, including Medicare, violates Constitutional principles. In a speech to the employees of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, on October 23, 1962 (U.S.D.H.E.W. 17, US Govt Printing Office: 1963, O-685-624), Frances Perkins explained how the Social Security Act was used to subvert the Constitution:

``Before I was appointed, I had a little conversation with Roosevelt in which I said perhaps he didn't want me to be the Secretary of Labor because if I were, I should want to do this, and this, and this. Among the things I wanted to do was find a way of getting unemployment insurance, old-age insurance and health insurance. I remember he looked so startled, and he said, `Well, do you think it can be done?' I said, `I don't know.' He said, ``Well, there are Constitutional problems aren't there?'

`` `Yes, very severe Constitutional problems,' I said. `But what have we been elected for except to solve the Constitutional problems?'

`` `Well,' he said, `Do you think you could do it?' `I don't know,' I said, but I wanted to try. ``I want to know if I have your authorization. I won't ask you to promise anything.'

``He looked at me and nodded wisely. `All right,' he said. `I will authorize you to try, and if you succeed, that's fine.' ''

This was the way it all began.

Speaking about the Committee on Economic Security, she said, ``Congress hastily received the President's Report and authorized the Committee, but adjourned without making any appropriation to support the Committee.

``Well, here again was a problem. I remember talking to the President, and he said, `Well, look, Harry Hopkins has got all that money. They just made enormous appropriations for Harry Hopkins' relief problem. Go get some of Harry's money.'

`` `Well,' I said, `I don't think that's legal, is it? It belongs to Harry.'

`` `Oh, well, you can get that,' he said.

``It was a bright idea, really. I don't know why they don't do it more in the government now. `Borrow people, just borrow what you need for staff. Why there are all kinds of people working in Washington-thousands of them. Borrow them. The Army's got them; the Navy's got them; Agriculture's got them; Labor's got them; everybody's got thousands of people working for them. They don't really need all of them,' he said.

``Well, that was his view and I'm not sure it isn't mine really. I think somehow that-well, I don't talk about this because this is critical of other people, but the proliferation of jobs in the Government since I left it 25 years ago is astonishing. I see an awful lot of people and I wonder what they do.

``Anyhow, he said, `Borrow them.' So we borrowed them. Mostly it was Agriculture and Labor who contributed to the staff, and the Attorney General gave us half a dozen lawyers whom he didn't know what to do with otherwise. They were good people, it so happened, and I had the pick of them.

``We knew we had to have actuaries. Well, the Lions Club of America and some other big service organizations put up the money for the actuaries.

``We had the Technical Advisory Committee which were the high-strung people. We had a General Advisory Committee which was the employers and labor-the general public. They were easier to handle because the `general public' had been well picked; you know, the way you pick a Committee. They were all perfectly good people. Even the employers had been well picked. There was Marion Folsom of Eastman-Kodak Co.''

Speaking about the actuaries needing information she said, ``And then how many people do you expect to be victims? How many people will we have to give compensation? We can't make the actuarial tables without that....

``That was one of the funny things, you know. We so desperately underestimated the number of people that would be covered by the Social Security System.

``The Legal Committee soon broke into a row because the legal problems were so terrible. The Constitutional problem was the greatest one. How could you get around this business of the State-Federal relationships? It seems that it couldn't be done.''

She then tells about going to a tea and seeing Justice Harlan F. Stone and that she put the question to him. She then reports, ``He looked around to see if anyone was listening. Then he put his hand up like this, confidentially, and he said, `The taxing power, my dear, the taxing power. You can do anything under the taxing power.' ....

``This, then, was the genesis of the whole bill. We did a great deal of educating by one kind of propaganda or another, chiefly hearings. We had a number of Senatorial Committees which we asked to look into this or that...for the purpose not so much of advice as of propaganda-that is of educating the public. The result was a bill that finally was presented to Congress and as you know was debated very briefly, really quite briefly when you think of the problems that were involved....and we gave way on all kinds of things. We gave way on washing out universal insurance; that is, universal coverage. We let them take out one group after another; no objections, just so we got the basis of the bill.''

Pamphlet No. 1050, June 1996