“...we are against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program....the consequences for “our children” would be dire: “we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”
And what was this frightful threat that Reagan perceived as “imminent”? Medicare.
Government control of medicine was never what Medicare was about. It is a system for financing the costs of medical care that has nothing to do with medical practices. But then as now, this threat was the reliable boogeyman.
Republicans have a long-standing, deeply-held antipathy for both Social Security and Medicare. Not only did Reagan advocate making Social Security voluntary in the 1964 Goldwater campaign, but argued in 1975 that Social Security should be privatized. And we’ve all heard those before; we still hear those arguments today.
By 1980, this aspect of Reagan’s personal history had become a political liability and he denied having ever campaigned to destroy Medicare, but insisted he was trying to improve it. Perhaps, he was just acting.