Patria makes a very good point. As has been successfully demonstrated in several other debates recently, there are facets of socialism within our government today that have existed for decades - the VA, Medicare, the Railroad Retirement system just to name a few. These are all programs run and operated by the federal government. True, none are run as effeciently as they could be, but then again when there is this...pull...between the responsibility towards those who stand to benefit most from these such programs and the efficiency and cost effectiveness of such programs where the argument continues to be "can private entities do the job better at a reduced cost where the mechanics of the free market should provail," my first question is "why don't we see more private-public cooperation" in that regard taking a more active role to fill the gaps where government falls short OR taking up this responsibility completely by the private sector to provide for the needy at every turn where the needs exsist? The answer is very simple: capitalism.
Our free market system will only provide something for free or at a reduced cost if it gives them a competitive advantage, i.e., free samples at the grocery store in the hope of driving up sales and capturing a good segment of the market. Pharmaceutical companies give out free samples of new medicines to patients in the hopes to drive sales of their drugs. It's a step away from those so-called "blind" experiments we've all heard about from the days of the Tuskegee Airmen experiments. Socialism is considered acceptable in these areas because they only apply to a specific segment of the population and not the whole, but if you look back through history you'll find that these programs were also heavily debated against their enactment before one common factor was taken into consideration - human compassion and decency to care for your fellow man.
Social programs do have a place in American society and our nation's government has tried to place much of the responsibility to manage such programs in the hands of the States. Medicare, Part D, for example, is tied into Medicaid which is a federal-state government partnership, and even it is tied into Social Security. There are questions on all side as to who can run "it" better but never the question invalidating the need for their existance.