On the eve of the Obama administration's most aggressive push yet to pass a national health care plan, a 50-year-old audio recording of Ronald Reagan speaking out against "socialized medicine" has become a huge YouTube sensation.
Nearly 1 million viewers have watched the video, in which the late president, speaking before he became California governor, warns that government intervention in the health care system creates a slippery slope.
"One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project," he said in the recording. But he said most people in America oppose "socialized medicine" when given the choice.
"From here, it's a short step to all the rest of socialism," Reagan said.
The video first made its way around the Internet last summer. While conservative sites hailed it, others ridiculed the recording.
Media Matters dismissed the clip, writing that "Reagan was speaking out against an early version of Medicare, which has become very popular since it was enacted," and that the late president’s "dire predictions" never came true.
Health care reform critics are on edge as President Obama convenes a bipartisan health care reform summit Thursday. The president says he wants to hear Republican ideas, but he has already introduced a blueprint for a bill and Democratic lawmakers are threatening to pass the bill using a controversial tactic known as reconciliation, which would allow the Senate to approve parts of the package with just 51 votes if it gets House approval.