Health care and consensus

Whether you like the health care bill or hate it, the lack of bipartisanship on such vital legislation is deeply troubling.

But there is a major difference between this health-care battle and the debates that preceded passage of Social Security and Medicare. Although there was opposition to those measures — conservative opponents called Medicare socialized medicine — in the end they passed with overwhelming, bipartisan majorities.

The House approved the Medicare bill on a vote of 313 to 115, including 65 Republicans — nearly half the GOP caucus at the time. The Senate approved the measure by 68 to 21, including 13 of the 27 Republicans.

Social Security passed the House in 1935 by 372 to 77. On that vote, 77 Republicans joined the majority and 18 Republicans opposed it. In the Senate, the vote was 77 to 6, with five of 19 Republicans in opposition.