From the Archives: LBJ and Earle Clements Talk Medicare Bill Strategy in 1964

In June of 1964 President Lyndon Johnson had a lot on his hands, he was running for election and attempting multiple major legislative feats.

LBJ was regularly conferring with former U.S. Senator Earle Clements, a Democrat from Kentucky, on his legislative agenda.

In a phone recording between President Johnson and Clements, who served as majority whip in the Senate under LBJ from 1955-1957, the two discuss a strategy for passing a top legislative wish – Medicare, the federally funded insurance program aimed at providing low-cost health care for elderly Americans. Clements related his conversations back to LBJ in an effort to help the president.

The recording, obtained by Kentucky Fried Politics via the National Archives, starts after the conversation between LBJ and Clementshad already begun talking. The two remark on a strategy for the Medicare bill along with discussions on a federal pay bill, and discussions with Arkansas U.S. Rep. Wilbur Mills.

Listen to the conversation in the video below.