An Astrological History of the Pursuit of Universal Healthcare: Part II
Before reading this article I would strongly advise you to read Part I if you haven’t already. There I discussed how Saturn in Pisces and Virgo periods marked various attempts at liberal reform, all of which hinted in the direction of universal healthcare. From here on out, the pattern continues with explicit and interconnected attempts at instituting national health insurance to the present day.
Saturn in Pisces, February 14th 1935-January 14th 1938
FDR strode into office in 1933 in the middle of the Great Depression, with majorities in Congress and a mandate for change. In the tradition of his idol and fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt (who was president during the last Saturn in Pisces period), he got right to work with relief, recovery and reform, enacting the New Deal.
The crown jewel of the New Deal was Social Security. He was encouraged to enact national health insurance along with Social Security, but with immediate fierce opposition from the AMA, he knew that it would be politically untenable. He was already being called a fascist, (ironic, because he led the US into a war against fascism), so he did not want universal healthcare to endanger the passage of Social Security. Federal assistance for the elderly, retired and unemployed was much more politically palatable.
At 3:30 pm on August 14th 1935 he signed the Social Security Act.
We can never insure 100% of the population against 100% of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty stricken old age. It seems to me that if the Senate and the House of Representatives in this long and arduous session have done nothing more than pass this security bill, Social Security Act, the session would be regarded as historic for all time.
Today, it is considered one of the most popular government programs of all time. FDR himself considered it his finest domestic achievement, but just a foundation for something greater. Others would attempt to build upon it in the next Saturn in Virgo and Pisces periods, with mixed success.
Saturn in Virgo, September 18th 1948-August 13th 1951
Harry Truman had been Vice President for only a few months before being thrust into the Presidency when FDR died. It was then that he learned about the top-secret Manhattan Project, and was faced with making the decision to drop the world’s first nuclear bomb in order to end the Second World War.
He had made a few speeches about universal healthcare before Saturn’s arrival in Virgo, but he hadn’t pursued any legislation. In 1948 he was elected President in his own right, and finally had the political capital to pursue his own legislative aims. On January 5th 1949, he presented the Fair Deal in his State of the Union address.
Every segment of our population, and every individual, has a right to expect from his government a fair deal.
This included national healthcare and civil rights legislation. Unfortunately for him, the Fair Deal did not get a fair shake. The country was in a conservative mood after finally seeing economic prosperity not seen since before the Great Depression, and calls for yet more national sacrifice for national goals was out of step with the times.
He was called a socialist by many members of Congress, and the AMA attacked his proposals as an “Old World scourge” that would “regiment doctors and patients alike” and “turn back the clock of medical progress in this country 50 years.” He continued to introduce bills throughout that year but Congress adjourned without ever acting on the legislation. He couldn’t do it.
Saturn in Pisces, March 23rd 1964-March 3rd 1967
Like Truman before him, Lyndon Johnson ascended to the Presidency because of the death of a President. In 1964 he ran for the Presidency in his own right. Shortly after Saturn’s ingress into Pisces, he gave a speech on May 22nd 1964 at Ann Arbor, Michigan outlining his Great Society, which would become the defining hallmark of his presidency.
This amounted to a bevy of new programs and law proposals for civil rights, health care for the elderly, education, poverty, and other issues. The comparisons between LBJ’s effort and FDR’s was not lost on anyone, not least of all LBJ himself, who was actually a former protégé of FDR’s. And of course it was during the last Saturn in Pisces period that the New Deal’s crowning achievement, Social Security, was enacted in 1935. And so thirty years later, right on cue, the Social Security’s sequel comes along.
Lyndon Johnson was elected in a landslide with beefed up Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. The nation harbored lingering sadness over JFK’s death, which LBJ was able to successfully tap into to pass legislation in honor of the slain president. All of these favorable factors in combination with his legendary legislative arm-twisting overcame even the shrill protests from the AMA, the Republicans, and Operation Coffee Cup (the forerunners of today’s Teabaggers).
It was July 30th 1965, in Independence, Missouri. The moment was rife with symbolism, carefully orchestrated by Johnson. Former President Harry Truman, the man who championed universal healthcare in the previous Saturn in Virgo period, introduced President Johnson to sign the legislation. Johnson invoked the fallen JFK, and others who fought for the measure. And of course he referenced his idol from the previous Saturn in Pisces period, FDR.
In 1935 when the man that both of us loved so much, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, signed the Social Security Act, he said it was, and I quote him, “a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but it is by no means complete.” Well, perhaps no single act in the entire administration of the beloved Franklin D. Roosevelt really did more to win him the illustrious place in history that he has as did the laying of that cornerstone…And those who share this day will also be remembered for making the most important addition to that structure, and you are making it in this bill, the most important addition that has been made in three decades.
At 3:09 pm, he signed the Social Security Act of 1965, creating Medicare and Medicaid. Johnson then signed Harry Truman as the first beneficiary of Medicare. Truman was born with the Sun conjunct Neptune, and as his dream was realized, Neptune had reached the opposite point. FDR was born with Uranus rising, and Medicare was passed just a couple of months before his posthumous Uranus Return.
On June 19th 1964, Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy sustained severe injuries from a plane crash, including painful back problems he would have for the rest of his life. His hospital experiences triggered his life long interest in the provision of healthcare services.
In the 1964 elections, Hillary Rodham was a staunch Goldwater girl, a Republican! When she entered Wellesley College in the fall of 1965, she was elected President of the Young Republicans. But it was also when she went to college in the era of civil rights and the Vietnam War that she began to drift away from the party of her younger years. She wrote to her pastor at age 18 that she felt she was becoming a “mind conservative and a heart liberal”.
In the fall of 1964 and spring of 1965, Bill Clinton was in his freshman year at Georgetown University. He took two classes with Carroll Quigley, receiving a ‘B’ both times.Years and years later in his announcement of his run for President, as well as in his nomination acceptance speech, he cited the influence of Quigley on his aspirations and political philosophy. Surely that included the formulation of his opinions about universal healthcare. Both Bill and Hillary’s political awakenings would come to a head about 30 years later in another Saturn in Pisces period.
Carter Healthcare Reform Attempt
Saturn in Virgo, November 16th 1977-September 21st 1980
Up until the election of President Jimmy Carter in 1976, Ted Kennedy led the Democratic Party through the age of Nixon (who has his own universal healthcare story, a Saturn in Gemini event). But now with a Democratic president and no chairmanships with which to wield influence , Kennedy was diminished. While Carter and Kennedy had generally similar ideologies, they had different priorities. Kennedy was miffed that national health insurance was put on a backburner by Carter. Kennedy put forward proposals in late 1977 and through 1978 that were rebuffed by the fiscally-minded Carter administration. Kennedy’s resentment grew, and battle lines were drawn at the midterm conventions on December 9th 1978, in Memphis Tennessee where Kennedy famously said “Sometimes a party must sail against the wind.”
This must have disturbed Carter a bit, because on January 18th 1979, he issued a statement about his plans for National Health Insurance legislation, which he formally proposed to Congress on June 12th 1979. Like other Presidents before him, he invoked the Presidents from the most recent Saturn in Virgo and Pisces periods:
It’s been 30 years since President Harry Truman proposed access to quality health care as a basic right for Americans, and it’s been nearly 15 years since the Congress enacted legislation establishing Medicaid and Medicare. Now is the time to move forward again.
Like Truman’s effort, it fell flat. Liberal Democrats caused problems for its passage, with the loudest voice of dissatisfaction coming from Kennedy. In that same month, Carter warned Kennedy that he would “whip his ass” if he decided to run against him. On November 7th 1979, Ted Kennedy announced his run for the Presidency, running on a platform of national health insurance.
Despite more popular support for Kennedy than for Carter, his campaign was disorganized and suffered from many political miscalculations and missteps. Kennedy initially wasn’t a great campaigner, but hit his stride later on. Unfortunately for him, Carter won the majority of the delegates. Even when it became mathematically impossible for Kennedy to continue competing, he stayed in the race right up to the Democratic National Convention. If this sounds familiar, it should.
Instead of rallying his supporters behind Carter, Kennedy gave a speech which could hardly be called a concession. He laid out the case for American liberalism with a fierce urgency, with allusions to FDR, MLK and Alfred Lord Tennyson. His words echoed through Madison Square Garden, the same venue his fallen brother John campaigned for universal health care in on May 2nd 1962, as his speech came to a thundering climax:
For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
Kennedy’s hopes for the presidency, as well as hopes for a Democratic victory in 1980 certainly died. But in defeat Kennedy discovered a new freedom, as a check against the arrival of the Reagan Era, developed the role of a senior statesman, and devoted the rest of his life to the Senate and the improbable quest for universal healthcare.
Clinton Healthcare Reform Attempt
Saturn in Pisces, May 20th 1993-April 7th 1996
After 12 years of conservative Republican rule, and an electorate divided by three candidates, Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992 as a New Democrat. He had campaigned on the promise of stabilizing the economy and instituting universal healthcare. As a sign of his personal commitment to the issue, within the first few days of his presidency, he made the unusual appointment of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to head the Clinton Healthcare Reform Taskforce. Healthcare would become her singularly defining issue.
Immediately the Taskforce came under legal scrutiny because of secrecy and constitutional issues because of the First Lady’s involvement. Hillary was cleared of all charges, but the Taskforce disbanded just 11 days after Saturn’s first ingress into Pisces. Bad sign.
In late summer 1993, the Clintons began to plan on making a huge push for healthcare. The insurance industries buckled and in pre-emption, they began to air the now notoriously fear-stoking “Harry and Louise” ads on September 9th 1993, which proved to be highly damaging to Clinton’s plans. On September 22nd 1993, President Clinton gave a primetime address to Congress on the importance of passing universal healthcare reform.
It’s hard to believe that there was once a time in this century when that kind of fear gripped old age, when retirement was nearly synonymous with poverty and older Americans died in the street. That’s unthinkable today, because over a half a century ago Americans had the courage to change, to create a Social Security System that ensures that no Americans will be forgotten in their later years.
Again, Clinton is making a clear connection to two Saturn Returns ago, between his effort and FDR’s effort. The address was very well-received. The momentum continued with Hillary’s dramatic and triumphant appearances before various Senate committees. But it was all not meant to be.
Despite the visionary plan that the Clinton Administration prepared, one that anticipated problems that would come up later, just about everything went wrong. The talents and abilities of the Clintons to possibly pass something like universal healthcare and other liberal reforms scared the health insurance lobby and the Republicans they funded into waging total war on the plan. Bill Clinton would not compromise on the details of the final bill. Democrats could not agree on the details. The very complexity of the plan was used to scare people into thinking they wouldn’t know what they would be getting, and that their choices would be taken away. Republicans were instructed by Newt Gingrich not even to meet with Democrats on the issue, especially with Hillary Clinton.
Despite the struggles of ordinary people coping with healthcare costs, they were successfully scared by scurrilous claims about the Clinton healthcare plan and public sentiment turned against it. The Clintons fought back as much as they could, but it was doomed. The “Harry and Louise” ads stopped airing on September 11th 1994. On September 26th 1994, Republican Congressmen announced that healthcare reform was dead. In the 1994 Congressional elections, Republicans wiped the floor with the Democrats. This was the first Saturn in Pisces event in a while to be a resounding defeat. However, healthcare reform was not dead by a long shot.
Obama Healthcare Reform Attempt
Saturn in Virgo, September 2nd 2007-October 29th 2009, April 8th 2010-July 21st 2010
The main focus in politics in 2007 and 2008 was not on who was in the White House, it was on who was going to be in the White House next. In the last Saturn in Virgo period, there were two main Democratic contenders, Jimmy Carter, the original outsider politician vs Ted Kennedy, the inheritor of a political legacy. Their main point of difference? Policies on healthcare. In 2007 and 2008, that was Barack Obama vs Hillary Clinton. Their main point of difference? Policies on healthcare. There was also the undercurrent rivalry of their respective claims to history, as the first black or female President. To any student of history, this was just a modern version of the powerful but tense alliance between Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. To a student of astrology, that just makes even more sense.
There are several interesting parallels and reversals from the last Saturn in Virgo period. Both candidates vied for the blessing of Kennedy. Kennedy was great friends with the Clintons, and Hillary’s proposal offered an insurance mandate for everyone, while Obama’s proposal only had a mandate for children. Any outside observer would probably guess that Kennedy would endorse Clinton, especially given Bill’s own idolization of JFK and his work with Hillary on healthcare legislation. However, Kennedy was also the one who once said that sometimes the party must sail against the wind. At that time, the wind was blowing at Hillary’s back, Obama was sailing against it. Ultimately he saw something in Obama that reminded him more of his brothers than any other candidate and he threw his weight behind Obama before the Super Tuesday contest, which eventually sealed the deal for Obama’s nomination.
2008 Democratic National Convention
Another interesting reversal for Kennedy was the difference between his defiant speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, which happened during the last Saturn in Virgo period, and his speech on August 25th 2008, at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. It was not known if he would make a speech, since he was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. It was a triumphant appearance, and updated the climax of his 1980 speech:
And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.
It would be his last major speech. Another interesting reversal from 1980, was that Kennedy’s counterpart in Hillary did not give a speech of fiery defiance that ended up contributing to the nominee’s loss, as Kennedy did to Carter. Instead, Hillary gave a speech which is considered one of the best in her career, a powerful call for Democratic unity behind Barack Obama. She gave the speech on August 26th 2008, as the Sun and Saturn were on her Virgo midheaven. This also happened to be on the 88th anniversary, or the third Saturn Return, of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing a woman’s right to vote.
The Obama Administration
Meanwhile, Obama’s ascendancy to the Presidency occurred near the fifth Saturn Return of the Emancipation Proclamation. The symbolism is staggering. It is even more interesting that Obama has often been compared to Lincoln, considering this link in time between them.
Obama won the 2008 election convincingly, with super-majorities (eventually) in both houses of Congress. He had campaigned on universal healthcare, and picking up on the legacies of the Presidents before him, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, LBJ, Carter and Clinton, Obama began his attempt to pull the sword out of the stone.
This time around, some of the key players are nowhere to be found. Since Obama appointed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, she can no longer be a player in politics, and it may not be an accident that she was occupied with a multi-nation tour in Africa for a large part of Obama’s initial push for healthcare reform. Bill Clinton has largely been silent, since it is likely he has been given strict instructions about what he can say and when he can speak about the issue. Ted Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate and tireless advocate of healthcare, to whom Obama owed so much, died late on August 25th 2009 in Hyannis Port.
Even some of the familiar enemies are gone. According to some reports, the Obama administration cut deals with pharmaceutical companies. In exchange for reduced costs, the administration would not propose measures that would make those companies lose even more profits, such as importing drug products from Canada. For the first time in decades, the American Medical Association is supporting a government healthcare reform effort! Even “Harry and Louise” are back in ads on TV, in favor of Obama’s plans! Other groups have taken their place, however.
So, what now?
Well, healthcare reform attempts in the most recent Saturn in Virgo periods (Carter, Truman) have not been successful, so that in itself is not looking good for Obama. However, despite the successes of FDR and LBJ in Saturn in Pisces periods, Clinton was unable to do it during his Saturn in Pisces period, so just what sign Saturn is in is not a reliable predictor of whether the attempt will be successful, just that there will be an attempt. And Saturn is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the history of healthcare reform. There’s a story to be told for Jupiter-Neptune cycles as well (they are currently conjunct). But for all the times that these major pushes for healthcare reform were successful, there were several unique key factors that formed a more favorable political environment for its passage, without an entirely consistent pattern. In other words, the stars were aligned.
Are they aligned for Obama? We’ll see.
What he’s up against
Transiting Saturn conjunct natal Mars in the 8th house. This is probably one of the least desirable transits to have, as both planets are considered malefic, and the 8th house doesn’t exactly have a great reputation. Here is how the 8th house is described by Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens: “The 8th: death, benefits from fatality…lawsuits, weaknesses”.
That is fairly close to how the 8th is viewed today, as the house of death, inheritance, legacies, taxes, finances, other people’s money. It is not such a huge leap then to say that health insurance would come under the topics of the 8th, after all it does involve all these things. Saturn brings about trials, setbacks and obstacles (or at least hard-fought progress) to the topics of whatever house it travels through. Appropriately, Obama’s worries for the past 2 years have been about raising money for his presidential campaign, worries about the financial troubles of America, and now the broken healthcare system. Granted, everyone shares concerns about the last two issues, but he has experienced them in a very specific way as the leader of the country, hence it is personalized for him in his natal chart.
The position of Mars at your birth can indicate tendencies about your initiative, courage, your inclination to rise to action. Obama was born at night, so the rashness and boldness of Mars is cooled down. Additionally, Mars is in Virgo, indicating a cautious, calculated and practical line of defense. Obama is not known for his hot-headedness, going on the attack only if necessary. George W. Bush also had Mars in Virgo, but he was born during the day, so he was generally more aggressive in promoting his policies.
So Saturn transiting onto his Mars would cast doubt on and fear for his capacity to act, criticism for his initiatives, in the 8th, on the issue of health insurance. As Hellenistic astrologer Dorotheus notes about this transit, it “makes those who are discouraged and not eager”, or Hellenistic astrologer Anubio who says it “makes enmities and imprudence and inaction and non-beneficial blows”.
He’s clearly in a bind. To avoid letting the bill sit around (certain death for a bill), and perhaps to get the bill passed while Ted Kennedy was still alive (a sentimentality as well as a crucial 60th vote in the Senate), Obama pressed for a bill before the Congress recessed in August. In wanting to avoid the partisan gridlock and over-managing that killed Clinton’s attempt, he decided to go with a laissez-faire approach, giving Congress general principles to follow, and then let them work out the details in a bipartisan solution. This left the door open for anyone to say what they thought healthcare reform was. Democrats squabbled amongst each other, while conservatives and the health insurance industry stepped in with scary television ads, just like before. Republicans, hungry for any kind of victory over the new popular President fed and encouraged outright falsehoods through the Fox News channel. Before anyone knew it the August recess came with no bill.
The President’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel remarked that August would be filled with “peril and opportunity”. It turned out to be mostly peril. That’s when we saw all the disgruntled senior citizens and former McCain-Palin supporters shout at their representative’s town halls about health care rationing, death panels, (both of which private insurance companies already have), tax-paid abortions and care for illegal immigrants, (none of which exist in any of the proposals). And then of course, the very old sure-fire killer of health care reform, “it’s socialist”. Town halls all over the country turned violent on several occasions, making the rounds on cable news and Youtube. Poll numbers in support of Obama dropped considerably. Conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats do not want a public option. Pundits are declaring he’s lost control of the debate. “Non-beneficial blows” is right.
What’s going for him
This is a bit morbid, but the 8th house is considered to be about “benefits from fatality”, or in the modern parlance, inheritances. Since Ted Kennedy died, political observers have noted that the death of one of the most respected and prestigious members of the Senate, whose life cause was on the issue of healthcare, might bring a renewed sense of urgency to the debate that could lead to a breakthrough in the legislative proceedings. Not unlike the death of another Kennedy, whose memory spurred legislation like Medicare. Indeed, people have widely speculated that Obama inherited the political legacy of the Kennedy’s, perhaps universal healthcare will be something Kennedy left for Obama in his political will.
Despite Obama’s hard Saturn transit, Obama also has Jupiter transiting over his Ascendant, his 1st house. Jupiter is the planet of luck, good will, wealth and prosperity. The Ascendant is the eastern horizon of where you were born, and is one of the most individual and important features of the chart and is supposed to represent your basic outlook and perspective in life. Obama was born with Jupiter in the 1st house, and experienced his most recent Jupiter Return at his inauguration in January. It likely represents Obama’s own innate positivity, his optimism, and with Jupiter currently transiting his Ascendant, his overtures to bipartisanship, his desire and confidence in helping struggling Americans with their healthcare costs. George W. Bush had transiting Jupiter conjunct his Ascendant when he pushed for a war with Iraq, and he was lucky in that pursuit.
Knowing a lot about Obama’s chronology, there is one particular planetary cycle I have my eye on for the development of this healthcare reform attempt. It is one which is near-universally despised, yet one which Obama seems to have a lot of luck with: Mercury retrogrades. Mercury retrogrades are coincident with episodes of miscommunication, misunderstandings, mishaps and mix-ups, yet the only person who doesn’t appear to be afflicted by it is Obama. One of the most famous examples of this was Obama’s inauguration, where Chief Justice John Roberts mixed up the words of the Presidential Oath when Obama was saying them correctly. I already covered several examples of his luck with Mercury retrogrades in a previous article, but the main gist of my observations is that Obama tends to benefit from the chaos that surrounds him, remaining calm in the eye of the storm.
On September 7th 2009, Mercury will station retrograde at 6 Libra. On September 15th 2009, Congress will reconvene to continue hammering out the details of a healthcare bill. On September 20th, Mercury will reach its inferior conjunction with the Sun at 27 Virgo, conjunct Saturn at 25 Virgo and opposite Uranus at 24 Pisces. It will be around this time that amid all the chaos, Obama will be able to effectively deliver his message, or successfully negotiate with opposing parties. On September 29th 2009, Mercury will station direct at 21 Virgo. Saturn will leave Virgo on October 30th 2009 and ingress into Libra, but Saturn will make one more dip back into Virgo due to retrogradation from April 8th 2010-July 21st 2010. I predict that he will make the most progress on the bill while Mercury is retrograde, and while Saturn is in Virgo, which limits a potential bill to appear in September-October 2009 or April-May 2010. I think he will get a bill to sign. It won’t be everything he wanted, but nor was Social Security for FDR, or Medicare for LBJ.
It is not hard to imagine that if Obama finally had a bill to sign, that Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter and the Kennedy family would all be there to witness it, just as Truman witnessed LBJ sign Medicare into law. Like Truman at LBJ’s signing, Bill Clinton would also be experiencing Neptune opposing his Sun at Obama’s signing. In a cheesy way, even Theodore Roosevelt would be there in spirit, since Joe Biden, Obama’s Vice President, was born almost exactly at Theodore Roosevelt’s posthumous Uranus Return.
There is a lot that would have to happen between now and then, if it ever is to happen. The window is closing. Saturn will be leaving Virgo soon, and if history has anything to say about it, if Obama does not succeed, it will be a long wait until the next opportunity.
All charts in this article use Whole Sign Houses, are cast for noon if the time is unknown, Washington DC if the place is unknown. Credit goes to Nick Dagan Best for his assistance with my research.