Jim Moody, 83, a college professor who served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin and sponsored a bill in 1991 to establish single-payer universal health care coverage, died March 22 at a Maryland hospital. The cause was a nontraumatic intracranial hemorrhage.
Early in his career, Moody lived overseas while working for an international humanitarian organization and the Peace Corps. He later became a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
He served in both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature before he was elected to the U.S. House in 1982 as a Democrat from the Fifth District in Milwaukee and its suburbs.
In Congress, Moody served on the Ways and Means Committee and had a reliably liberal voting record, except on the issue of federal debt. He was a longtime supporter of a constitutional amendment to require a balanced U.S. budget.
He was among a handful of congressmen who opposed the Persian Gulf War during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, maintaining that the country could go to war only after a declaration by Congress. "This is about constitutional process," he said in 1990. "Clearly offensive actions should not take place in the absence of either debate in Congress or a formal declaration of war."
Moody was progressive on many social issues and, as early as the 1980s, voiced support for gay rights and the legalization of marijuana. He was also an advocate of universal health insurance for Americans, an idea that had been proposed since the early 20th century.
In a 1991 bill co-sponsored by three other members, Moody called for a federally funded single-payer form of universal health insurance, similar to Canada's system. He noted that 37 million Americans at the time lacked insurance, including 550,000 in Wisconsin.
Moody said the proposal would be financed by higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy and would, in the long run, save billions of dollars a year in administrative costs. The bill died in committee.
In 1992, Moody ran for the Senate, only to lose in the Democratic primary to Russ Feingold, who ultimately won the general election. Moody then retired from politics.
James Powers Moody Jr. was born Sept. 2, 1935, in Richlands, Va. His father was a Red Cross official; his mother worked in relief efforts for refugees.
Moody spent much of his childhood abroad, attending school in Shanghai before graduating from an English-language high school in Athens. He joined the Peace Corps soon after it was formed in the early 1960s and helped set up programs in Pakistan and Bangladesh. He spoke Greek, Farsi, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish and French.
He later became a Peace Corps official in Washington, then worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development.