When It Came to Medicare Costs LBJ Concluded "What's $400 Million Between Friends!"

Lyndon_JohnsonLyndon Johnson’s advisers were worried. They were drafting a Medicare proposal, a major component of Johnson’s war on poverty. But the cost of this program was turning out to be much larger than expected. By their estimates, in the first year alone, they would face $400 million more in expenditures than they had budgeted for. The advisers asked Johnson what the administration should do, and Johnson replied: “Well, I guess I’ll run and get my brother.” That answer didn’t make sense to his aides, of course.  So he continued:

“Well, I remember one time they were giving a test to a fellow who was going to be a switch man on the railroad, giving him an intelligence test, and they said, ‘What would you do if a train was coming east going 60 mph, and you looked over your shoulder and another one was coming from the west going 60 mph?’  And the fellow said, ‘I’d go get my brother.’  And they said, ‘Why would you get your brother?’  And he said, ‘Because he hasn’t ever seen a train wreck.’”

Johnson was famous for using colorful yarns to calm his colleagues. When his colleagues pushed back on the cost of the impending legislation, he replied with another folksy story that put an end to any discussion of foregoing the legislation… (Read more and view comments at Forbes)

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